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Pacific carrier battle December 1941

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  • Pacific carrier battle December 1941

    What would have happened in the days immediately after Pearl Harbour the two carrier forces met?

    Japan seemed to have had
    • a technological advantage in aircraft at that time
    • success in their assault on Pearl Harbour
    • combat experience


    the long term result of the war would certainly not have changed, but if the US lost their carriers would they have revised the Europe First strategy?
    What would Occam say?

  • #2
    Originally posted by billscottmorri View Post
    What would have happened in the days immediately after Pearl Harbour the two carrier forces met?

    Japan seemed to have had
    • a technological advantage in aircraft at that time
    • success in their assault on Pearl Harbour
    • combat experience


    the long term result of the war would certainly not have changed, but if the US lost their carriers would they have revised the Europe First strategy?
    The Japanese also enjoyed an immense superiority in numbers over the US, with a 6-2 ratio of aircraft carriers in the waters around Hawaii. Only the USS Lexington and Enterprise were in the immediate area. The Saratoga was still at Bremerton Navy Yard in Washington State.
    "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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    • #3
      Nothing really changes. The US had such an enormous production advantage that it only delays the inevitable by a few months.

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      • #4
        Very little effect. A third wave taking out fuel depots, dockyards and other repair facilities would have ahd more impact.

        In the end their grand strategy was flawed and doomed. Their only hope would have been keeping the US completely out of the war and focusing on cutting off Australia and pushing through Burma into India. More daring raids into the Indian Ocean may have also been very effective. With Britain pushed out of Europe and out of CBI, it would have been very gloomy indeed.
        Boston Strong!

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        • #5
          well, what could change is if the pearl harbour surviving fleet - battlewagons and all - also sorties and gets sunk.... (it had inefficient aa and was quite vulnerable to aircraft)

          perhaps such a blow would change the US opinion. I think not, put it would be possible. in the public opinion loosing battleships was worse than loosing carriers (probably few people even knew what carriers were before dec 7th)
          "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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          • #6
            Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
            well, what could change is if the pearl harbour surviving fleet - battlewagons and all - also sorties and gets sunk.... (it had inefficient aa and was quite vulnerable to aircraft)

            perhaps such a blow would change the US opinion. I think not, put it would be possible. in the public opinion loosing battleships was worse than loosing carriers (probably few people even knew what carriers were before dec 7th)
            The surviving battleships weren't going anywhere, as all of the battleships that were moored outboard suffered torpedo damage and were sunk, which obviously disqualified them from sortieing from the harbor. All of the inboard battleships were pinned in place by those moored outboard.

            After the surprise, sneak attack by the Japanese, there would be no change of public opinion by the American Public. They were howling for Japanese blood after Pearl Harbor and only the complete and utter devestation of Japan would mitigate this quest.
            "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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            • #7
              yes, yes. I agree with you.

              the best for the japanese was to not declare war on the US - and go on the Dutch east Indies and Bratain first, then wait for a US DoW and application of War Plan Orange (ok, it was cancelled, but the US would have had to attack somewhere and the Japanese attacking the Philipines would have lured the US fleet there)... and THEN waves after waves of G4M and G3M torbedo bombers, followed by carrier strikes and a finish by the IJN battleships would have been the ideal Japanese scenario to strike a massive blow on the US fleeet - with 50-100'000 casualties in a few days, and a war started by roosevelt, perhaps the US would negotiate peace on Japan's reasonable terms (replace western imperialism by japanese imperialism)...
              "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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              • #8
                That would still be a high risk course of Japan. The economic pressure went far beyond the oil. Other critical items were also no longer avalaible. High quality scrap steel, chemicals, machine tools were also embargoed. I cant recall if the US and Britian had already impounded Japanese assets in our banks, but the plan was in place to do so. In the first half of 1941 roughly one third of the cargo passing thru Japans ports was carried on forigen ships. The British, Dutch, & US ships were unavailable by autum, grossly complicating supply of raw materials and moving finished goods out. Despite the effort of Japans business community the China market was still not suffcient to offset the loss of revenue from the US ceasing to improt Japans goods.

                Every week that the economic assualt on Japan continued was another crippling week for Japans industry. While delaying the fight with the US has some very good tactical advantages it also delays the essential resolution of the economic embargo.

                The USN wargames and strategy discussions during the 1920s & 1930s frequently postulated how Japans navy might ambush or otherwise defeat a US fleet in the early days of the war. Al the admirals present had participated in one or more of these operational and strategy studies and were very aware of the possiblities. anything is possible, but I'm skeptical that the USN would automatically charge off into a ambush somewhere in the Pacific.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                  That would still be a high risk course of Japan. The economic pressure went far beyond the oil. Other critical items were also no longer avalaible. High quality scrap steel, chemicals, machine tools were also embargoed. I cant recall if the US and Britian had already impounded Japanese assets in our banks, but the plan was in place to do so. In the first half of 1941 roughly one third of the cargo passing thru Japans ports was carried on forigen ships. The British, Dutch, & US ships were unavailable by autum, grossly complicating supply of raw materials and moving finished goods out. Despite the effort of Japans business community the China market was still not suffcient to offset the loss of revenue from the US ceasing to improt Japans goods.

                  Every week that the economic assualt on Japan continued was another crippling week for Japans industry. While delaying the fight with the US has some very good tactical advantages it also delays the essential resolution of the economic embargo.

                  The USN wargames and strategy discussions during the 1920s & 1930s frequently postulated how Japans navy might ambush or otherwise defeat a US fleet in the early days of the war. Al the admirals present had participated in one or more of these operational and strategy studies and were very aware of the possiblities. anything is possible, but I'm skeptical that the USN would automatically charge off into a ambush somewhere in the Pacific.
                  Agreed on all counts. CINCUS Admiral Kimmel knew full well that the Pacific Fleet would be in no condition to go on the offensive in any Pacific War before late 1942. The Pacific Fleet lacked the vitally needed aircraft, manpower, also the crucial supply, support and warships necessary to project decisive power into the Japanese held periphery of island groups. As a result, the Philippine Islands would have to fend for themselves for much longer than the six months called for in War Plan Orange.

                  Had war with Japan been declared without an attack on Pearl Harbor, Kimmel would have proceded very cautiously and would have been more concerned with building up a base of power and reinforcing the nearby US Garrisons on Wake and Midway Islands while also keeping his supply lines open with Australia and the continental US.
                  "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                  • #10
                    I have to agree with the above - and indeed Kimmel's writings confirm this (and I think he was an excellent Admiral, who sadly had to take the blame for Dec 7th, which he did courageously).
                    even if a Naval Plan Orange was applied, the US Navy had some of the best commanders of any navy in the world at the time and despite some tactical shortcomings (aa, torpedoes, some outdated night-fighting doctrine, and a somewhat inferior naval air component, and perhaps less training for crews) it would probably not have charged like a bull on a red drape... but first reinforce Guam - Japan had very littel possibilities to win in any scenario.

                    perhaps a better one would have been to play nice and DoW on Germany!
                    "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
                      I have to agree with the above - and indeed Kimmel's writings confirm this (and I think he was an excellent Admiral, who sadly had to take the blame for Dec 7th, which he did courageously).
                      even if a Naval Plan Orange was applied, the US Navy had some of the best commanders of any navy in the world at the time and despite some tactical shortcomings (aa, torpedoes, some outdated night-fighting doctrine, and a somewhat inferior naval air component, and perhaps less training for crews) it would probably not have charged like a bull on a red drape... but first reinforce Guam - Japan had very littel possibilities to win in any scenario.

                      perhaps a better one would have been to play nice and DoW on Germany!
                      Guam would have been conquered no matter what the US did. Aside from a couple dozen US Marines and the island's constabulary guard, the island was completely undefended. The largest weapon in their arsenal was a .30 caliber machinegun. An isolationist US Congress vetoed any armament and fortification improvement measures directed towards Guam in the 1930's and the Marines paid for it.

                      Added to this, the two Japanese fortress islands of Saipan and Tinian were right next door. Guam quckly fell to the Japanese on the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked.
                      "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                      • #12
                        yes, what I meant is that any Naval Plan Orange would have to first ensure the security of the Marianas. re-taking Guam, taking Saipan and Taipan.

                        thinking of it, that would be a large endevour - as it was in 1944 - for the the US fleet and Marines in 1941-42!
                        "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
                          yes, what I meant is that any Naval Plan Orange would have to first ensure the security of the Marianas. re-taking Guam, taking Saipan and Taipan.

                          thinking of it, that would be a large endevour - as it was in 1944 - for the the US fleet and Marines in 1941-42!
                          In simple terms the USN advance thru the Central Pacifc was War Plan Orange. The whole thing was scaled up due to more reources avaialble than anticipated, and as always in war the details varied from those anticipated. One huge difference of course is there were no massive surface battles in the Central Pacific. A second was the establsihment of the 'fleet train' by 1944 allowed more islands to be bypassed, and greater flexibilty than in the plans of the 1920s or 1930s.

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