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The Washington Naval Treaty and the Pacific

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  • #16
    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?
    From what I remember, naval defenses were not game changers in the Pacific when compared to, say, more ships or strategic maneuvering.

    Likewise, considering how much of the Pacific War was fought over conquered/reconquered territory, its liable that such efforts wouldn't have accomplished too much - Singapore is a good example of how large ports and strong fortifications can't oppose strategic defeat.

    Where it might have played the biggest role is in those few areas that were owned by one side throughout the war and played a major role in logistics and transportation - extra defenses, bigger ports, etc. could offer some benefit.

    But beneath it all is the understanding that there is little realistically would have been done there, even if they weren't banned by treaty. The 20s and 30s were not a prime period for government spending on defense by the Allies, and the Japanese would have been limited to building on the land they actually owned before 1941.

    I truly can't imagine the US spending lots of money on Guam and Midway during those years. At most, you might see an increase in spending in the run-up to the war as relations with Japan soured, but some extra AAA and pill boxes isn't going to change the course of those battles.

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    • #17
      On the other hand, as an example of how this might have effected things, landings in the PI such as at Aparri likely would have been defeated. That location was to get a battery of 240mm guns for coast defense (historically they were in route in a convoy near the Phoenix Islands when war broke out.
      Given that that landing nearly failed because of surf, the presence of a few coast defense guns likely would have caused it to fail entirely.

      Guam I can see being left undefended. It was in a bad spot and offered little to the US in terms of military advantage.
      On the other hand, being able to build defensive positions on places like Wake or Midway would have been of benefit to the US. Wake with just a bit more defense systems than it had historically, and a radar or two probably could have withstood Japanese invasion.
      Japanese bombers had to go unescorted and with radar the Marines could have mounted a good aerial defense that would have quickly made the Japanese realize they couldn't send bombers unescorted to attack the island.
      With the ability to start defenses earlier the vital equipment could have been delivered in lieu of having to haul everything there at the last moment.

      Japan paid scant attention to coastal defense themselves. Most of their emplaced weapons were antiquated or hand me downs and the service was seen as undesirable for promotion.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
        On the other hand, as an example of how this might have effected things, landings in the PI such as at Aparri likely would have been defeated. That location was to get a battery of 240mm guns for coast defense (historically they were in route in a convoy near the Phoenix Islands when war broke out.
        Given that that landing nearly failed because of surf, the presence of a few coast defense guns likely would have caused it to fail entirely.

        Guam I can see being left undefended. It was in a bad spot and offered little to the US in terms of military advantage.
        On the other hand, being able to build defensive positions on places like Wake or Midway would have been of benefit to the US. Wake with just a bit more defense systems than it had historically, and a radar or two probably could have withstood Japanese invasion.
        Japanese bombers had to go unescorted and with radar the Marines could have mounted a good aerial defense that would have quickly made the Japanese realize they couldn't send bombers unescorted to attack the island.
        With the ability to start defenses earlier the vital equipment could have been delivered in lieu of having to haul everything there at the last moment.

        Japan paid scant attention to coastal defense themselves. Most of their emplaced weapons were antiquated or hand me downs and the service was seen as undesirable for promotion.
        However, I don't see any of this being a strategic game changer. If the defenses the Japanese had run up against had more pillboxes and AAA positions - and maybe even some more coastal artillery - it would really just mean that, at best, the Japanese would have suffered more casualties before winning.

        Their sweep across the Pacific in 41/42 was well executed as they'd strategically outmaneuvered their enemies.

        Really, it depends on how much of an improvement we're willing to give the Allies that determines how effective this scenario is. Do the Allies turn every island into a Gibraltar? Are the Philippines given their own Maginot Line?

        Personally, I don't know if removing the restriction would have made the Allies spend more money on far-flung territories when the Great Depression and tight belts were the word of the day.

        And importantly, where would they have cut back on spending to allow for the increased spending elsewhere?

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        • #19
          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          Guam gets coast defense weapons installed as does Wake, Midway, Johnson Island, and other US locations.
          If Midway was stronger, maybe the Japanese wouldn't have tried to attack it. Ergo, no Battle of Midway and no early turning point of the war. The entire Pacific war history would have changed.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by johns624 View Post
            If Midway was stronger, maybe the Japanese wouldn't have tried to attack it. Ergo, no Battle of Midway and no early turning point of the war. The entire Pacific war history would have changed.
            The Japanese didn't necessarily want Midway solely because of its geographic position, but rather to lure the USN into a decisive battle. The invasion was important, but was strictly a secondary operation. Therefore even a stronger Midway garrison would likely have not deterred the Japanese.
            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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            • #21
              Well without that provision japan ends up with a bigger fleet

              Considering the non fortification part was the only way the Treaty was sold to the hardliner in Japan. Without it all the Pro WNT Japanese go into hiding in the west if they signed the treaty.

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