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  • No Pearl Harbor?

    Simple Premise...

    Japan chooses a more conservative strategy and attacks only the Commonwealth/Dutch areas in December 1941.

    Question...

    Given the USA's domestic political situation at the time, could and/or would the USA have entered the war on the allies side, soon after (by March 1942 say) the Japanese attack?

    Regards

    Gaz

  • #2
    I believe they would have chosen to go to war by your supposed date due to British calls for aid. With their relationship, I can't see that the we could sit back and ignore what was happening. Of course, it is just a guess but I thought I would get the ball rolling.
    "War is hell, but actual combat is a motherf#cker"
    - Col. David Hackworth

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    • #3
      A very good "what if" indeed, but put yourself in the Japanese shoes. What if the US then simply moved a significant portion of its Pacific Fleet to the Philippines?

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      • #4
        The US would have continued their build up in the Philippines unabated and by mid 1942 had sufficent forces there that the Japanese couldn't have taken the islands.

        (This would include 2 or 3 US infantry divisions, the equivalent of an armored division in tanks including a battalion of M3 mediums, large amounts of artillery several hundred more aircraft than were present in Dec 41, and the Philippine army would have had between 3 and 5 decent divisions with more coming up to strength following those.)

        At some point the US could have opened hostilities on their terms and cut Japan off from the resources in Malaysia and the DEI. Japan would now be forced to attack a much reinforced US military in the PI, probably losing the battle.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          The US would have continued their build up in the Philippines unabated and by mid 1942 had sufficent forces there that the Japanese couldn't have taken the islands.

          (This would include 2 or 3 US infantry divisions, the equivalent of an armored division in tanks including a battalion of M3 mediums, large amounts of artillery several hundred more aircraft than were present in Dec 41, and the Philippine army would have had between 3 and 5 decent divisions with more coming up to strength following those.)

          At some point the US could have opened hostilities on their terms and cut Japan off from the resources in Malaysia and the DEI. Japan would now be forced to attack a much reinforced US military in the PI, probably losing the battle.
          Agreed and to amplify a bit:

          Some additional information taken from the "Green Books."

          "The schedule of shipments finally established in November provided for sending to the Philippines some 20,000 troops, about one third of them Air Force units, on eleven troopships to sail from fan Francisco between 21 November and 9 December 1941.32 The Holbrook, carrying 2,000 troops and equipment (the 147th Field Artillery Regiment and the 148th Field Artillery Regiment minus one battalion), and the Republic carrying 2,630 troops and equipment (the 2d Battalion of the 131st field Artillery Regiment, the 27th Bombardment Group, and 48 Air Corps officers), sailed from San Francisco 21-22 November. Convoyed by the USS Pensacola, they were due to arrive in the Philippines on 14 January 1942.

          Sailings for 15,000 troops were scheduled for 5-9 December. The President Johnson with 2,500 troops the 2d Battalion of the 138th Field Artillery Regiment and three squadrons of the 35th Pursuit Group), the Etolin with 1,400 troops " including the 218th Field Artillery Regiment minus the 2d Battalion) and the Bliss sailed from San Francisco on 5 December 1941. The following day the President Garfield sailed from the same port with the remainder of the 35th Pursuit Group.33

          In addition to the 30,000 U.S. Army troops present, and those due to arrive in the Philippines, there were 80,000 troops in the Philippine Army, including the ten divisions to be activated by 15 December. The total strength of General MacArthur's command--present, en route, and under orders--amounted to about 137,000, considerably less than the 200,000 he had estimated as sufficient for defensive operations.34

          The Far Eastern Air Force had 35 four engine bombers and 107 P-40E's on hand, and 38 more P-40E's and 52 A-24's (dive bombers) were en route in the Pensacola convoy. In addition, 37 pursuits and 48 four-engine bombers were due to leave the United States by 6 and 10 December, respectively. As for ground force matériel, equipment for one antiaircraft regiment had recently arrived, as well as 108 tanks and 50 self-propelled 75-mm. guns (tank destroyers). Forty-eight 75-mm. guns were en route (with the Pensacola convoy), and more guns and a considerable amount of ammunition were scheduled to be shipped.35 "

          Lastly, there was also the 34th and 161st Infantry Regiments awaiting shipment from San Francisco, as was a battalion of M-3 Grant medium tanks in New Orleans, Louisiana.
          "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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          • #6
            I found some additional information:

            "Another Cablegram (below) talks of 125 P-40 Tomahawks and 5 DC-3's being sent from California in December 1941 to Australia. From another source, I believe that the 4th Air Depot Group left San Francisco on 15 December 1941 on board the U.S. Army transport, President Coolidge, and arrived in Melbourne on 1 February 1942

            Casey to Evatt Washington, 17 December 1941

            Cablegram 1163

            Most Secret

            United States is sending "in the next few days" two fast ships (President Polk and President Cooleridge) [sc. Coolidge] from the Californian coast to Australia, containing 125 P 40 fighter aircraft, 5 transport aircraft D.C. 3 type, together with United States Army Air Corps fourth mobile depot group of about 550 officers and men. Each aircraft will be accompanied by pilot, crew, observer and armourer. Above ships will also carry some ammunition and bombs. The mobile depot group will have hand tools and such other necessary maintenance equipment and machinery as the ships can carry. This depot group is to establish itself at the most appropriate place in Australia (they presume either Brisbane or Townsville) for the assembly of the above-mentioned and subsequent arriving aircraft. Subsequently about 35 or 40 P 40 fighter aircraft with pilots, bombers and ammunition may be expected monthly as reinforcements by subsequent ships.

            All of the above fighter aircraft are destined on the present plans to fly to the Philippines via Darwin and appropriate stopping places. ......

            [AA: A 5954, Box 535]" Taken from Australia at War Site.
            "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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            • #7
              I didn't know that there was a buildup in the PI. With our policy towards Japan, they would have to take out the Phillipines rather than leave an unsinkable carrier along their communication routes.

              Let me just say .... GREAT question.

              I do believe that we had just sent our Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Pearl for its closeness and "protected" anchorage.

              I think the question should be what if the sent anothe two or three carriers to hit the Panama Canal at the same time?
              In Vino Veritas

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              • #8
                "SUMMARY

                2. PRE-WAR BRIEF. Any evaluation of the operations of this unit mast take into consideration the precis, (See Addenda "A"), of its movement to the theater on the eve of the outbreak of hostilities, its organization 17 days before that, and the consequent lack of mutual acquaintance between the armored personnel and their supported associates, in a strange land and climate, and with weapons new to them, as well as to all present for the war except the Tank Group Commander. It was for this reason that he asked to remain with the Tank Group when division command was proposed on his arrival. In approving on 21 November, General MacArthur stated that he had asked for an armored division, to the command of which the Group Commander would succeed. The nucleus of this division was never augmented; although a medium G.H.Q. Tank Battalion had been completely equipped and was on 48-hour standby for departure for the Philippines when its orders were cancelled on 10 December 1941. ((Another light tank bn had also been alerted)) "

                That would still have given MacArthur three battalions of M-3 Stuart light tanks, plus a single battalion of Grant medium tanks, somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 light and medium tanks overall. That's a pretty substantial sized armored fist.
                "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Without Pearl Harbor, there would never have been the political will to wage WWII. Even when people understood the Nazis were worse than the Soviets, and the Soviets were clearly going to loose without aid, most people, by 4 to 1 wanted no war up till Dec. 7 Roosevelt wanted desperately to get in the war, and has been accused of luring Japan into attacking, but even he could only get limited lend lease and an off camera war with the U-boats.

                  If the US wasn't going to war with Hitler over control of it's biggest trading partners (all in western Europe), why would they fight to defend British and Dutch Imperialism in the Pacific? And the answer is they wouldn't.

                  Most likely, the US would stand aside and let Hitler and Togo divide the world and try and form an alliance with a protected Britian and Latin America, after the US managed to mediate some kind of peace between the Axis and Britian. The Soviet Union was toast without the air war, the lend lease and the second front. They would naever been able to exploit it's war machine's ability to best the Germans by virtue of not having supply lines needed to exploit breakthroughs. It's really simple as that.

                  A nasty world I think. ANd Hitler with an A bomb sometime in the late 40s is frightening.
                  How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
                  275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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                  • #10
                    I finally found some of the numbers I was looking for. Hap Arnold placed the re-armament of the Philippines on their number one priority list by mid 1941. It was decided that 165 B-17's and B-24's and 230 modern fighters be assigned to the Philippines by the end of 1942. This does not include all of the light bombers, medium bombers and dive bombers, torpedo planes, PBY Catalina flying boats, training, liason and transport aircraft that would naturally have to be sent to make up a well rounded air force. It appears that virtually everything that could fly was being sent either by boat, flown directly to the PI., or somewhere in transit there.

                    Taken from USAF Historical Studies.
                    "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dakooch View Post
                      A very good "what if" indeed, but put yourself in the Japanese shoes. What if the US then simply moved a significant portion of its Pacific Fleet to the Philippines?
                      It could never happen. The absolutely vital, logistical fleet supply train needed to sustain the US Pacific Fleet in the PI did not as yet exist and would not exist until after 1943. Also, virtually all of the direct US supply lines to the Philippines ran right through concentric rings of Japanese occupied island chains.
                      "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Good point, but Japanese air may have leveled the playing field a bit. I don't think that Japanese ship to shore is documented, but it may allow for a foothold. Stuarts, while a fine little tank would not hold up to the Japanese A/T guns. Too light.
                        The Japanese used terrain to their advantage. So, I believe he'd need at least 2 to 3 pre-WWII armored Div's (which was not possible without stripping the US bare) to pose a change of mind for the Japanese. Most of his equipment was outdated, even by the standards of the day. He had an impossible suppy line and even more antiquated air arm. As much as I hate to admit it, he was ripe for the plucking.

                        We must admit that for what the Japanese did, with the forces they allocated, was nothing short of genius. The hitting of almost simultaneous targets, use of para's and Marines, air and naval assets....

                        Even the US Navy proved how easy the Canal could be hit by naval air (remember Pearl at that time was NOT the home port of the Pacific Fleet).

                        But, in order for their forces to do what they in in the Indonesia area,
                        Pearl and the Phillipines had to go.
                        In Vino Veritas

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wolery View Post
                          Without Pearl Harbor, there would never have been the political will to wage WWII. Even when people understood the Nazis were worse than the Soviets, and the Soviets were clearly going to loose without aid, most people, by 4 to 1 wanted no war up till Dec. 7 Roosevelt wanted desperately to get in the war, and has been accused of luring Japan into attacking, but even he could only get limited lend lease and an off camera war with the U-boats.

                          If the US wasn't going to war with Hitler over control of it's biggest trading partners (all in western Europe), why would they fight to defend British and Dutch Imperialism in the Pacific? And the answer is they wouldn't.

                          Most likely, the US would stand aside and let Hitler and Togo divide the world and try and form an alliance with a protected Britian and Latin America, after the US managed to mediate some kind of peace between the Axis and Britian. The Soviet Union was toast without the air war, the lend lease and the second front. They would naever been able to exploit it's war machine's ability to best the Germans by virtue of not having supply lines needed to exploit breakthroughs. It's really simple as that.

                          A nasty world I think. ANd Hitler with an A bomb sometime in the late 40s is frightening.
                          I happen to agree. the political will to enter the war without a direct attack on America did not exist. Only the December 7th attack broke the neutrality sentiment.
                          God Save The Republic.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                            I finally found some of the numbers I was looking for. Hap Arnold placed the re-armament of the Philippines on their number one priority list by mid 1941. It was decided that 165 B-17's and B-24's and 230 modern fighters be assigned to the Philippines by the end of 1942. This does not include all of the light bombers, medium bombers and dive bombers, torpedo planes, PBY Catalina flying boats, training, liason and transport aircraft that would naturally have to be sent to make up a well rounded air force. It appears that virtually everything that could fly was being sent either by boat, flown directly to the PI., or somewhere in transit there.

                            Taken from USAF Historical Studies.
                            More information:
                            " Hap Arnold said that "We must get every B-17 availiable to the Philippines as soon as possible."

                            "His statement was not an exaggeration. On the outbreak of war there were 913 U. S. Army aircraft scattered among the numerous overseas bases. This number of aircraft included 61 heavy, 157 medium, and 59 light bombers and 636 fighters. More than half of the total of heavy bombers and one sixth of the fighters were already in the Philippines.43 Within a few months this number would have been raised considerably." Added to this number were B-24 Liberators that were now coming off the assembly lines. These too were slated for duty in the far east.
                            Continental US defense went a-begging in favor of Hemisphere Defense, according to US Air Force Documents. "The proposed transfer would have left only 17 B-17's within the continental US. Eleven of these were obsolete B-17 A and B models that were undergoing conversion. Five B-17-E models were undergoing trial flights. 12 B-17's of the Hawaiian Department were also being readied for the flight to the Philippines." "General Spaatz expressed the hope that an additional 48 B-17's and B-24's could be dispatched" from the US to the PI by 6 December, 1941.
                            Added to this, the vast majority, if not all of the A-20's, B-25's and B-26's that later fought over New Guinea would have been based on Luzon as well.

                            US Air Force Historical Study III Army Air Action in the Philippines, Netherlands East Indies
                            "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dakooch View Post
                              A very good "what if" indeed, but put yourself in the Japanese shoes. What if the US then simply moved a significant portion of its Pacific Fleet to the Philippines?
                              Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                              It could never happen. The absolutely vital, logistical fleet supply train needed to sustain the US Pacific Fleet in the PI did not as yet exist and would not exist until after 1943. Also, virtually all of the direct US supply lines to the Philippines ran right through concentric rings of Japanese occupied island chains.
                              If I am reading the books correctly the Japanese admirals were more concerned with the USN attacking though the Central Pacific. They seem to have understood the concepts in the US 'War Plan Orange' and correctly expected the main US naval attack/s to come in that area.

                              This is not to say they dismissed the Phillipines as a secondary naval base across the route to Dutch Indonesia. While not capable of supporting the US main battle fleet the naval base/s there could support a robust submarine fleet & a smaller surface fleet suitable for raiding and supporting British and Dutch naval activity.

                              Leaving the US main battle fleet intact means the IJN would keep its main battle fleet ready at its bases, to sortie out for a big showdown should the US fleet begain operations according to War Plan Orange.
                              Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 30 Nov 09, 18:41.

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