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  • The Washington Naval Treaty and the Pacific

    What if the WNT didn't include any restrictions on construction of bases and coastal defenses in the Pacific as it historically did?

    We know the Japanese went ahead and ignored that clause and built up bases as they could in the Pacific like Truk or Saipan / Tinian. Here, this part of the treaty simply doesn't happen. Maybe nobody thinks to include it. But, it isn't there.

    What, in particular, would the affect be on US defenses?

    A few I could see easily are:

    The coast defenses in the PI are modernized and expanded. Fort Drum was an example of this modernization that occurred before the treaty was signed and one of the only modernizations completed.

    Guam gets coast defense weapons installed as does Wake, Midway, Johnson Island, and other US locations.

    This might have resulted in major setbacks for Japan in 1941 if it had occurred.

  • #2
    I wonder what defenses would have been emplaced?

    14 and 16" disappearing guns were something that could have been emplaced on the islands without a ridiculous amount of concrete needing to be poured compared to the firepower. But they would have been at a severe disadvantage against airpower, no matter how good they'd be against shipping.

    If given the opportunity, would the US have built forts or open-air emplacements? The PI had the terrain for forts to be dug in relatively easily, but a lot of the other islands, like Guam or Wake, might not have been such easy work.

    Would the US have put in substantial medium and heavy flak batteries to protect their defensive guns. Without them the Japanese will be able to whittle away at any emplacements not buried under yards of concrete and rock. With substantial batteries of 5/25", 1.1in, and other 'obsolete but functional' AA guns, the US could have wreaked a heinous toll on the Japanese air arm, which was never set up for cracking solid AA defenses like the USAAF, but rather for hit and run and taking out weakly protected targets at long ranges.

    Fort Drum, and Corregidor would have been absolute BEASTS.

    And one other thought, one that comes to mind after the series of Oceanic wargames we had.......

    The US was going to have to get shed of several BBs and BAs after the conference. With no restrictions on Naval fortifications, would the US have simply dug slips at Guam, Wake, and Midway, and maybe a couple in the PI, and run the old BBs into them, permanently grounding them and filling their unused spaces with concrete to make them Concrete Battleships complete with their own armaments, armored quarters, and self-contained power? With everything but the main batteries stripped off, and maybe even a turret or two of those, and all the open deck spaces and bunkers built around to contain AA guns and auxiliary batteries controlled from the Conning Towers, you'd have some very potent shore batteries that would take a frightful pounding to put down. And they'd be able to be built much more quickly than trying to emplace heavy guns on land the traditional way.

    For example, Wake Island was already a near run thing for Japan. I don't see that working out if there was a Fortress Delaware was parked there as the lynchpin of the defense, with the Marines and other batteries there to support the heavily fortified battlewagon, complete with belt armor pulled and welded onto the decks and turrets to make her even more difficult to take down, and AA guns mounted in shore batteries behind her to provide her with defensive cover against aircraft attack. Certainly the Japanese cruisers and destroyers would have been fearfully wrecked if they had tried to support the landings.
    Last edited by TacCovert4; 02 Jun 15, 04:08.
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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    • #3
      I see all the decommissioned ship's weapons being turned over to the US Army for emplacement as coast defense weapons, not an unusual practice.

      Even if the initial practice was simply to emplace the guns in a simple concrete revetment or mount the turrets for use, the addition of literally dozens of "new" coast defense weapons at locations that were previously undefended would have complicated the Japanese problem of invasion exponentially.

      Somewhere like Wake instead of being a rushed last minute attempt to defend it could have had well emplaced 5" and 3" guns, concrete bunkers for machineguns, revetments for aircraft, and probably facilities to allow smaller ships and things like PT boats to operate from the lagoon.

      Just the number of surplus 5"/51 and 5"/25 guns would have been substantial.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
        What if the WNT didn't include any restrictions on construction of bases and coastal defenses in the Pacific as it historically did?

        We know the Japanese went ahead and ignored that clause and built up bases as they could in the Pacific like Truk or Saipan / Tinian. Here, this part of the treaty simply doesn't happen. Maybe nobody thinks to include it. But, it isn't there.

        What, in particular, would the affect be on US defenses?

        A few I could see easily are:

        The coast defenses in the PI are modernized and expanded. Fort Drum was an example of this modernization that occurred before the treaty was signed and one of the only modernizations completed.

        Guam gets coast defense weapons installed as does Wake, Midway, Johnson Island, and other US locations.

        This might have resulted in major setbacks for Japan in 1941 if it had occurred.
        I'm not educated on this subject enough to really make a case one way or another, but if the US make defenses and are seen to make defences the Japanese may go elsewhere.

        The reason the Falklands were attacked in 1981 was because Britain reduced its defenses despite the military and political situation at that time.

        However, given the Japanese mindset in 1941, and their proven ability to overrun defenses early in the PTO, it probably would have made no real difference. The Japanese would have lost several thousand additional men, a relatively insignificant amount in what happened later.

        Interesting thread .
        How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
        Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
          I'm not educated on this subject enough to really make a case one way or another, but if the US make defenses and are seen to make defences the Japanese may go elsewhere.
          Maybe. Or it might cause them to have more caution and not over-extend in China getting into a war with the West and US at all.

          The reason the Falklands were attacked in 1981 was because Britain reduced its defenses despite the military and political situation at that time.
          That is one reason. But, the Argentine government junta also saw a deteriorating political and economic situation at home and launched the attack to divert attention from that situation. I'd rank that well ahead of the British military reductions particularly as the Argentines, as I've pointed out, would have been far better off attacking after they were actually made.

          However, given the Japanese mindset in 1941, and their proven ability to overrun defenses early in the PTO, it probably would have made no real difference. The Japanese would have lost several thousand additional men, a relatively insignificant amount in what happened later.

          Interesting thread .
          With the IJA faction running the government, those calling the shots were pretty ignorant of US capacity and capability. That is likely to not change here. The IJA ignored warnings from the IJN faction that the US if angered into war would kick Japan's collective @$$.

          In the case of the PI if all of the 240mm guns, along with some other additional coast defense weapons and personnel were delivered and emplaced I could see 2 out of 3 of the initial Japanese landings being disastrous, even if they aren't failures. Extremely heavy casualties in the landing alone would have given original US forces the edge necessary to turn the PI into a stalemate.

          A better defended Wake likely wouldn't have fallen at all. Guam, historically undefended, might have survived untaken too.

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          • #6
            Not to mention the 12 inch guns pulled off the scrapped battleships. Just a couple of them in good concrete emplacements at Wake would push the Japanese cruisers back to the point that their fire would be ineffective. And some heavy batteries supporting the already decent defenses in the Philippines would have gone a long wato make up for the quality of troops there.
            Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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            • #7
              TAG
              Great thread idea. My first idea was that fixed implacements didn't fare well in the Pacific. Ergo not much of a difference except time. I'm aware of the Japanese problems with Tankers and Landing crafts, and of the "near deal" in the PI. However, the first posts you received has convinced me this concept has some real legs.
              Always guilty about these type of threads. I really can't contribute to the specifics of the question. I can only sit back, and read/learn.
              Thanks for the opportunity and all members that give of their knowledge.
              My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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              • #8
                Historically the Japanese did a much better job in their initial offensive (save the Philippines Campaign) than they themselves thought they would based on their prewar timetables. In other words, they considered the existing Allied defenses formidable enough to require virtually all of their available offensive power to tackle, and they expected stiff losses doing it.

                Perhaps in response to a beefed up Allied position in Southeast Asia the Japanese would be forced to concentrate on their primary objectives one at a time rather than all at once, or even swallow their pride and evacuate French Indochina to lift the embargoes?
                Divine Mercy Sunday: 4/21/2020 (https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message) The Miracle of Lanciano: Jesus' Real Presence (https://web.archive.org/web/20060831...fcontents.html)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BobTheBarbarian View Post
                  Historically the Japanese did a much better job in their initial offensive (save the Philippines Campaign) than they themselves thought they would based on their prewar timetables. In other words, they considered the existing Allied defenses formidable enough to require virtually all of their available offensive power to tackle, and they expected stiff losses doing it.

                  Perhaps in response to a beefed up Allied position in Southeast Asia the Japanese would be forced to concentrate on their primary objectives one at a time rather than all at once, or even swallow their pride and evacuate French Indochina to lift the embargoes?
                  Bob,
                  In response to your second Para. Any idea of a priority list? It's always been my idea that the PI was critical being on the flank. IYO, could the Japanese continue to use French Indochina with a viable US force in the PI?.
                  My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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                  • #10
                    Imagine this at Wake:

                    The USN / USMC (the service tasked with defending the island) have emplaced in concrete positions with some overhead cover, 12 5"/51 guns and another 6 7" guns (removed from old battleships that went to Midway in 1942). In addition, they have 12 3" and 12 5"/25 AA guns emplaced with fire controls.

                    There is a seaplane ramp and a partial squadron of PBY stationed on the island.

                    There are two solid piers and 4 to 6 PT boats and 4 to 6 small minelayers stationed there. A converted four piper seaplane tender is stationed at Wake.

                    The airfield has hardened revetments for the 12 F4F and 12 SBD stationed on the island. Fuel and ammunition are in underground hardened bunkers.

                    Shortly before the Japanese declare war a air search radar set is installed.

                    The Marines have most of their .30 machineguns (water cooled) emplaced in pillboxes that cover landing beaches with interlocking fire.

                    The Marines have put in hardened phone communications between these positions.

                    I really don't think the Japanese could have taken Wake if the above were the case.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by holly6 View Post
                      Bob,
                      In response to your second Para. Any idea of a priority list? It's always been my idea that the PI was critical being on the flank. IYO, could the Japanese continue to use French Indochina with a viable US force in the PI?.
                      You're right about the Philippines. Taking the archipelago was a vital step in securing the supply lines from the "Southern Resource Area" to Japan proper. As long as the Allies were strong there, the danger of interdiction remained present. Bypassing them and going directly for Malaya and the NEI was therefore a non-starter.

                      To answer your question, if the Japanese considered the Philippines too tough a nut to crack simultaneous with their other regional objectives, they would have been faced with several alternatives:

                      1. Devote more forces from China or Manchuria to the Southern Offensive, which would have proceeded at a much slower rate due to increased resistance and the limited Japanese amphibious capacity (~4-6 divisions afloat at any one time). As a consequence, further operations against China, such as the attack on Changsha in late December, would have had to be delayed or cancelled.

                      2. A more limited version of 1, in which the Japanese use the same forces as in the OTL but the scope of the offensive is drawn back in order to deal with the objectives one or two at a time, instead of all at once. This might have allowed Japan to defeat the Allied forces on hand, but would have caused an unacceptable delay and would have allowed substantial Allied reinforcements to be rushed to the region.

                      3. Give in to US pressure and abandon French Indochina in an attempt to lift the trade embargoes. This would have eased a considerable amount of ill-feeling held by the American people against Japan, and improved Japan's image around the world. It would also (assuming the embargoes were lifted) have nullified the need for a southern offensive at all. With America neutral and the Western Allies preoccupied with Europe, Japan's southern flank would have been secure, and IGHQ would have had a free hand to plan a knockout blow against China, or perhaps an offensive against their preferred enemy, the Soviet Union, instead.

                      As long as Japan held Indochina, the embargoes would continue. The longer IGHQ vacillated, the more those embargoes would bite. Therefore, it was critical for a decision to be reached as quickly as possible, and it basically boiled down to either war or humiliation. But as long as the Southern Resource Area remained in Allied hands, the Japanese presence in Indochina would ultimately have been unsustainable.
                      Divine Mercy Sunday: 4/21/2020 (https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message) The Miracle of Lanciano: Jesus' Real Presence (https://web.archive.org/web/20060831...fcontents.html)

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for the time and the response.
                        My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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                        • #13
                          The main problem withe the AAA Defense was the 3" Guns could not reach 10,000 feet. In bombing the PI, the Japanese Bombers preferred to drop at at least 12,000 feet. The 90mm AAA gun might have addressed this flaw, but would production be cranked up early enough to send some to defend Luzon? I don't know if the US economy would have allowed a lot more fortification work. Guam was pretty much indefensible. Wake should have had its work started years earlier. Same with Midway.

                          A problem with fortifying Luzon might well have been MacArthur's "vision" on what he wanted the defense to be. Any major air bases on Luzon should have been South of Manila to ensure enemy aircraft could not reach them. MacArthur building air strips on North Luzon only helped the Japanese.

                          Pruitt
                          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by holly6 View Post
                            Thanks for the time and the response.
                            No problem.
                            Divine Mercy Sunday: 4/21/2020 (https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message) The Miracle of Lanciano: Jesus' Real Presence (https://web.archive.org/web/20060831...fcontents.html)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                              The main problem withe the AAA Defense was the 3" Guns could not reach 10,000 feet.
                              I think that was chemical fuses, mechanical ones solved that issue... if you could get them.

                              An even more serious problem was the gap between the minimum range of the 3" guns and the maximum that a 50 cal. could reach. On Corridor they solved that problem by rigging up a quad 1.1 inch AA gun, the only other thing they had to work with.

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