Author Topic: The Japanese Were Ahead Of Their Time, and We Were Just a Bit Behind...  (Read 6150 times)

tbone0106

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The point was recently made on another part of the board, but...

At Pearl Harbor, the Japanese spent a significant portion of their naval power to sink battleships that they were in the very process of proving would never again hold an effective role in naval battle. They brought to the fray exactly two battleships, both smaller than their U.S. counterparts, and neither of which fired a single shot.

The primary targets of the Japanese should have been the three carriers that were then assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Despite real-time intelligence telling them that none of the carriers was in port, the attacks went in, two waves of airborne torpedo, bomb and machine-gun assaults....

Did the Japanese actually understand the significance of their own attack mode? They had transversed an ocean with a fleet of warships to make it happen -- from a distance. This very act was all the proof anyone would ever need that battleships were large relics of the past, and that aircraft carriers -- and the Japanese got NONE that day -- were the primary projectors of naval power.

Please, CPFers, talk to me.

Oh, and thanks, Solar, for setting this up. Taxed, if you had anything to do with it, I'll thank you a little bit, but JUST a little bit.  :tounge: :tounge: :tounge: And I'm not pulling your tail or anything.

Offline Solar

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I'm confused, are you saying battle ships are outmoded?
#WWG1WGA

tbone0106

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I'm confused, are you saying battle ships are outmoded?
More than that, I'm saying that the Japanese knew that battleships were never again going to be the juggernauts of years before. For their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, they brought along two fairly small battleships -- neither of which fired a shot -- and SIX aircraft carriers. They knew which guns they wanted to fire.

Proof of the concept came just six months later, when four of those six carriers were blown out of the water in the sea around Midway Island, an event that literally changed the tide of the war in the Pacific.

Consider this: Prior to Pearl Harbor, naval force doctrine was based on the battleship. Then the Japs showed up and proved it all wrong. I still wonder why they targeted the battleships, and attacked knowing that the carriers were out at sea. (Yeah, they knew with certainty; they had GOBS of spies in Hawaii.)

In my mind, it's a paradox. Why did the Japanese expend such a powerful blow to kill ships that they were in the process of proving useless? The literature tells you that not all Japanese naval leaders thought in December 1941 that battleships were useless. BUT the Pearl Harbor attack is nothing if it's not proof of that concept.

Talk to me....

Offline Solar

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More than that, I'm saying that the Japanese knew that battleships were never again going to be the juggernauts of years before. For their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, they brought along two fairly small battleships -- neither of which fired a shot -- and SIX aircraft carriers. They knew which guns they wanted to fire.

Proof of the concept came just six months later, when four of those six carriers were blown out of the water in the sea around Midway Island, an event that literally changed the tide of the war in the Pacific.

Consider this: Prior to Pearl Harbor, naval force doctrine was based on the battleship. Then the Japs showed up and proved it all wrong. I still wonder why they targeted the battleships, and attacked knowing that the carriers were out at sea. (Yeah, they knew with certainty; they had GOBS of spies in Hawaii.)

In my mind, it's a paradox. Why did the Japanese expend such a powerful blow to kill ships that they were in the process of proving useless? The literature tells you that not all Japanese naval leaders thought in December 1941 that battleships were useless. BUT the Pearl Harbor attack is nothing if it's not proof of that concept.

Talk to me....
A sneak attack on a country that was not in the war, is hardly proof that the battle ship was outmoded, in fact it was our Naval capabilities that kept Japan at bay using aircraft carriers, until we dropped the bomb.
The fact that Japan used Naval power to transport aircraft tells you that they thought nothing of the sort where naval power was concerned.
And you'd never send an Aircraft carrier out alone, it would always have escorts including a full battle group which always included a battle ship or more.

Take our current Navy, not one country on the planet can even come close to our capability, China is just now starting to get in the race, but they are 50+ years behind.
I don't think they see it as outdated either.
#WWG1WGA

Offline mdgiles

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They targeted the battle ships because their entire naval philosophy was based on Mahan - and their experiences in the Russo -Japanese War. It's why they built two enormous 78,000 ton battleships, when the steel could have been better used in more aircraft carriers. So wedded were the Japanese to the idea of a war deciding major fleet engagement, that they gave no thought to anything else. For example, with the lesson of Britain and WW1 behind them, how could an ISLAND NATION let themselves get caught so flat footed in anti submarine warfare. And knowing the US had to come at them across the Pacific, why no submarine fleet of their own to sit off the West Coast and the Panama Canal?
« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 08:00:55 PM by mdgiles »
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Offline Solar

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They targeted the battle ships because their entire naval philosophy was based on Mahan - and their expeirences in the Russo -Japanese War. It;s why they built two enormous 78,000 ton battleships, when the steel could have been better used in more aircraft carriers. So wedded were the Japanese to the idea of a war deciding major fleet engagement, that they gave no thought to anything else. For example, with the lesson of Britain and wW! behind them, how could an ISLAND NATION let themselves get caught so flat footed in anti submarine warfare. And knowing the US had to come at them across the Pacific, why no submarine fleet of their own to sit off the West Coast and the Panama Canal?
I think you're referring to Yamato and Musashi, two beautiful works of engineering.
The fact that they were planning an entire class of ships based on their design, says Japan thought Naval power was a necessity, not outmoded.
#WWG1WGA

Offline mdgiles

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I think you're referring to Yamato and Musashi, two beautiful works of engineering.
The fact that they were planning an entire class of ships based on their design, says Japan thought Naval power was a necessity, not outmoded.
An Island Nation depends on naval power, The Japanese simply had the wrong kind of naval power.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

Offline Solar

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An Island Nation depends on naval power, The Japanese simply had the wrong kind of naval power.
They also underestimated our ability to recover in such a huge way.
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Offline mdgiles

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They also underestimated our ability to recover in such a huge way.
Yamamoto didn't . He had been a Naval Attache and had attended Harvard. He had seen Pittsburgh and Detroit with his own eyes. He knew Japan couldn't win.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

tbone0106

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Yamamoto didn't . He had been a Naval Attache and had attended Harvard. He had seen Pittsburgh and Detroit with his own eyes. He knew Japan couldn't win.

Yamamoto gave his own navy six months to have its way. He was correct almost to the day.

I think there's a fundamental difference between what you're calling "naval power," Solar, and the classic broadside-firing, damn-the-torpedoes ships of the line. Modern aircraft carriers are more creatures of airpower and raw technology, I think, and less relics of traditional navies. It is padoxical that the the Japanese traveled all that way and sank or damaged all eight battleships of the Pacific Fleet without firing a single battleship artillery shell -- all the proof either side should ever need that the day of the battleship was gone.

Offline mdgiles

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Yamamoto gave his own navy six months to have its way. He was correct almost to the day.

I think there's a fundamental difference between what you're calling "naval power," Solar, and the classic broadside-firing, damn-the-torpedoes ships of the line. Modern aircraft carriers are more creatures of airpower and raw technology, I think, and less relics of traditional navies. It is padoxical that the the Japanese traveled all that way and sank or damaged all eight battleships of the Pacific Fleet without firing a single battleship artillery shell -- all the proof either side should ever need that the day of the battleship was gone.
The Japanese had the entire invasion fleet at Leyte at their mercy (one of their complex plans had actually worked) nothing stood in their way except the escort carriers and destroyers of Taffy 3; but the Japanese turned around and ran because they were scared to death of losing their precious battleships to carrier air. If you're afraid to use them, what good are they?

EDIT: One other thing, by that late in the war the Americans had turned their battleships and crusiers into floating anti aircraft batteries, that also carried a few big guns. But it seems the Japanese never did the same.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

Offline mdgiles

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One other thing, why didn't the Japanese take advantage of their ally's - Nazi Germany's - technology? Why were they waiting until the war was almost over to ask the Germans for jet engines and superior tanks. The Japanese aren't incompetent, and there are rumors the the Japanese built and exploded an A-bomb. They had facilities in Korea and Manchuria that were beyond the range of American air, especially earlier in the war,; they could have turned out superior aircraft and tanks in droves.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

tbone0106

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One other thing, why didn't the Japanese take advantage of their ally's - Nazi Germany's - technology? Why were they waiting until the war was almost over to ask the Germans for jet engines and superior tanks. The Japanese aren't incompetent, and there are rumors the the Japanese built and exploded an A-bomb. They had facilities in Korea and Manchuria that were beyond the range of American air, especially earlier in the war,; they could have turned out superior aircraft and tanks in droves.
I think what hurt the Japanese more than anything, and a large part of what started the war in the Pacific in the first place, was a crushing shortage of raw materials, the hallmark of any crowded island nation. They didn't particularly care when our diplomats told their diplomats that they oughtn't be doing those evil things in Burma and China and Manchuria, but they gave a rather large shit when we decided to cut off the oil and metal ores and scrap iron we'd been selling them by the boatload.

They went big on a couple of battleships, yes, but that was a sop to a fairly small contingent of the Imperial Navy who clung to the bitter end to the concept of "one big battle," in which enough of the US Navy could be destroyed to make the decisive difference. By the time of Leyte Gulf, the commanders with feet on decks had to know better, and after the debacle at Midway, actual moves by Japanese naval commanders were much more cautious. For most of the duration of the Midway battle, for example, Nagumo knew of only one American carrier in the area, and THAT had come as a nasty surprise to him. After the battle was done, and the intelligence and battle reports analyzed, they realized they had been bamboozled by the US Navy in a devastating way -- at the cost of Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, and Soryu, literally 2/3 of the carrier fleet that had struck Pearl Harbor.

In addition, the Japanese possessed only a tiny fraction of the shipbuilding capabilities of the US, even counting their commandeered capacity in conquered lands. Two of the four carriers I mentioned -- Akagi and Kaga -- were laid down in 1920 in other configurations and later converted to aircraft carriers.

If the Japanese exploded an atomic weapon, I've certainly never heard even a rumor about it. Considering the size, scope, and sheer cost of the Manhattan Project, a Japanese A-bomb seems a bit far-fetched to me. And one can only imagine what the Japanese would use to deliver one -- a submarine, I suppose. A Betty would never get off the ground with an A-bomb of that vintage.

tbone0106

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I'm confused, are you saying battle ships are outmoded?
Not exactly. I'm saying that battleships -- think Iowa class, USS Missouri -- not 'battle ships,' are outmoded. The last US navy battleship was decommissioned more that 20 years ago.

But my point was, the decline of the battleship took place during WWII, and it began at the beginning for the US -- at Pearl Harbor.

Offline COVER D

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Hello,

This is my first and I consider myself a history buff.

Yammato wanted to destroy the carriers at Pearl Harbor. In fact, the last
photos he had of the entire fleet showed the 3 carriers were there. The
4th one was in the Atlantic Fleet.

However, on the Monday before the attack the 3 carriers were sent on runs
to deliver planes to various islands. They were expecting trouble. They were
on their way back to Pearl on 7 Dec 41. One was within 225 miles.

Yammato's biggest mistake next to missing the carriers was leaving the sub fleet alone. They were tied up at dockside but the pilots went for the biggest ships
like the Arizona. They got em but the subs came back to haunt Japan's shipping
lanes and fleet.

The carriers were the most important weapons of the war - that and oil. The US won both world wars because it had the most oil and the Japs attacked Pearl
because they wanted the oil in the Dutch West Indies after FDR cut them off. They
like everyone else got their oil from us.

Some think FDR deliberately put the fleet at Pearl to goad them into attacking it so we could get into the war to defeat Germany and kill Hitler who was the most immediate threat.

Those carriers showed how important they were on both sides.

Five months later in May the Lexington held off 2 Jap carriers in the Coral Sea.
The Lexington was sunk but it had disabled the 2 Jap carriers and kept the Japs
from invading Australia. Had they not been sunk the Japs would have had 6
carriers at Midway a month later to our 4 and they might have won the battle
and the war in the Pacific.

Halsey who missed Midway because he was in the hospital called radar, the plane
and sub the most important weapons we had in WW2. Halsey forgot to mention
oil but he was the only admiral MacArthur respected after the Navy left his Army
out to hang.

Hope this helps.

 

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