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Japan decides against Midway and invades Australia instead

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by T. A. Gardner, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Quite true. But you apparently didn't read the quailication in my statement. I said; "In early July,1942, there were no operational Japanese air bases in the Solomons."

    From "Guadalcanal", Richard Frank, Page 31;

    "The first body of Japanese reached Guadalcanal on June 8 and pitched tents in businesslike rows. A vessel debarked more men and supplies, and the Japanese commenced erecting a wharf. On June 20, heavy clouds of smoke lingered over the plain as the Japanese began burning grass...On July 6 a twelve-ship convoy anchored off the wharf and disgorged men and equipment
    that the coast watchers deduced was for airfield construction."


    So I stand by my original statement.

    Not necessarily. In a historical time line, that would probably be true, but in light of the Darwin invasion scenario, it really is impossible to say with any certainty. If the Allies saw and opportunity to seize Guadalcanal while the Japanese were distracted with their Darwin invasion, they might well take. I personally that the Japanese would not try to extend their line of air bases beyond Rabaul. But if the Allies start moving up the Solomons chain, all bets are off.

    No, actually, the Japanese never "possessed" the Solomons, at least not in their entirety. Guadalcanal was, at best, a work in progress for the Japanese when the Allies seized possession. Rabaul was too far away from the lower Solomons to effectively control either the air or sea in that area as proved by the eventual Allied victory in that campaign. And Port Moresby was too difficult to supply for the Japanese, and too weak offensively, for it to anchor anything for the Japanese.

    Moreover the Japanese, in 1942 did not have "8 Fleet carriers" but only 6,and they were not regular fixtures in the area of Rabaul, nor could they be counted on to backup Rabaul if they were in support of the Darwin invasion. Si it's entirely possible for the Allies to launch an offensive in the Lower Solomons. Whether they would ind the conditions propitious or not, I'm not prepared to speculate.

    I believe Mr. Bergerud was out of his area of expertise when he wrote that statement about Port Moresby. He does not consider the geographic position of Port Moresby, nor the chronic lack of logistical shipping the Japanese suffered, nor the fact that Port Moresby was easily in range of a superior number of Allied airfields already established in north Australia. It's almost certain that Port Moresby would never be anything but an expensive defensive liability for the Japanese.

    I believe here is an equal chance that the JCS and Roosevelt see an opportunity to put Mac on ice in Northern Australia, use the Darwin invasion as an excuse to reduce his command responsibility, and put Nimitz in charge of most of the Pacific. That would solve Roosevelt's "MacArthur" problem, keep Mac on a short leash which would have made the JCS happy, and give Mac no reason to complain that his "genius" was being underutilized. Depending on how successful the war of attrition kicked off by the Darwin invasion, is, Nimitz, may, or may not launch his Central Pacific offensive earlier than November, 1943,
     
  2. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Those minor bases only required fleet carriers for defense if the Japanese attacked them with fleet carriers. With the 6 Japanese fleet carriers in the Timor/Darwin area that is not going to happen; the Japanese at that point in the war could not launch two major operations simultaneously.

    Nor were the Japanese so foolish as to believe they could pull off another "surprise" attack on Pearl Harbor, or that the land based air power on Oahu would not be able to crush any attacking fleet.

    Actually, he could pretty much rule out an attack on Pearl Harbor because the Japanese would never be so foolish as to think they could make such an attack with less than their full offensive power, i.e. six fleet carriers. And the Japanese carriers, though powerful and formidable opponents, shared one common failing with their US counterparts; they lacked the capability of simultaneously occupying two points in space and time. This would have been a necessary attribute for the Japanese fleet carriers to be able to both support the Darwin invasion and attack the US forces either at Oahu or points south.

    A completely unfounded supposition, and one unsupported by any logic or evidence. There is nothing inherent in US logistical capabilities in 1942 that would prevent Us carriers from operating tin the Timor Sea, nor around Perth which was, in fact, a far better base than the Japanese carriers would be forced to use.
     
  3. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Ok, now that we've cataloged the phony reasons you don't want to talk about the quality of sir support the Japanese would be able to deploy in support of an invasion of Darwin. First, nothing has been settled, you just want to avoid discussing whether Army or Navy pilots and planes would fly from Timor. This is an important issue because of the training of each group of pilots, Navy vs. Army, differed, just as it did in the respective US air forces. You keep claiming that Japanese Army pilots were able to navigate over long over-water distances, but that is not true.

    From "Fire In The Sky", Eric Bergerud, page 328;

    "Experienced naval pilots from other areas in Southeast Asia were exchanged for Rabaul veterans weakened by malaria and stress. In 1943, the Army agreed o send major reinforcements, bu this expediency proved a failure, according to Ohmae: 'The Army had just come into Rabaul, but it was no help, Japanese Army units had no training in navigation and in any event these planes had too short a range.'"


    I would also point out that in February, 1942, when Darwin was bombed it was IJN planes from Timor and carriers that did so. Are you proposing that the Japanese would replace those Navy pilots on Timor with Army pilots and planes, despite that fact that, in any invasion of Darwin, the Japanese will undoubtedly face the need for anti-shipping strikes, and IJA pilots were NOT trained in either over-water navigation, nor anti-shipping attacks? Frankly, that seems stupid and I don't think the Japanese were that dumb.

    No, in light of the quotation I have just presented, I would ask for the source of that information, and a detailed quotation documenting your claim..
     
  4. Chesehead121

    Chesehead121 Member

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    I think it's a bit like a Germany invades Russia scenario. Great, we've got Moscow. Only 10,000,000,000 square miles left! Oh wait, we don't actually occupy any of it because 1. we burned it or 2. we have nobody there! Replace snow with sand and bing!
    Also, while you have 3,000,000 troops trying to take Russia, the Allies' plan for invasion in '43, Roundup, might have been, erm, feasable? This is sort of proportionate, as the Japanese would need a large landing force that would eventually get bogged down in the sand and the U.S. would just munch on the Japanese's unreinforced backside while they're looking the other way. Coo-ee! Aussies win.
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Devilsadvocate wrote:
    I believe this is incorrect. The Japanese had naval and airbases on two of the Shortland Islands off the southern end of Bougainville. The Buin strip (southern Bougainville) was not only used as an emergency airfield, it was also used as a transit point. It became a full scale operational strip in August 1942, when the crushed coral airstrip was completed. There was a fighter strip at Buka to the north of Bougainville. Also a seaplane base at Tulagi from May 1942. Furthermore the Japanese airbase at Lae on New Guinea was operational and within range of Guadalcanal. There may have been others but these I am familiar with.

    This statement needs clarification. It was the site of an Australian airstrip in late 41 early 42. The Japanese occupied it in mid March 42 and utilized it as a fighter strip. It later was improved and became a major airfield in December 42. So it did exist during our time frame but would not be usefull for operations against Guadalcanal.

    Devilsadvocate quoted:
    I think this can be interpreted to support both your point and Glenn239's. While the Army pilots may have had insufficient navigational skills to be of use in Rabaul because most flying was done over water. Long distances and the only reference points occasional islands, not easily identified as a particular one. Army pilots did have navigational training, but over land navigation with plentiful reference points is not nearly as complicated as long distance over water navigation. Glenn239's use of fighters out of Timor was much more simple. Fly a simple compass heading, hit a big azz landmass, carry out your strike, reverse azimuth until you hit a really big island. The navigation skills required would be pretty basic.
    That said, if I were the Japanese commander over the proposed Darwin Invasion, I'd use carrier air and fly the Army aircraft in from Timor after I'd repaired the Australian airstrip. Three, four days tops, then release the carriers for other ops.

    Devilsadvocate quoted USMCPrice:

    I posted this in response to your comment:
    You were correct there were other factors, the most important of which was they were one of only two amphibiously capable divisions at the time.

    you further wrote:
    My reply was answering this question raised by you. The Marines were not in close proximity to Australia being on the US East Coast. I was trying to illustrate that even though the military thought the threat posed by Guadalcanal was important enough to pull the First MarDiv from the Torch Landings. To shortchange the preparations of the assigned Army units by pulling out the unit teaching them amphibious techniques. Trained, battle ready units were not readily available to return one of the 1st MarDiv's three organic infantry battalions, off defending Samoa. Furthermore, the perceived threat to Samoa, New Caledonia and other Pacific bases, by Japanese forces, were severe enough that trained combat ready units already in these areas could not be shifted and substituted for less ready units.
    Return of the detatched regiment had to wait for a suitable replacement to be shipped to Samoa, even though the situation at Guadalcanal made an American defeat seem likely.
    Hope this clarifies.
     
  6. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I think you will need to provide operational dates for each base and some authoritative documentation. After a pretty extensive search I've turned up no mention of those bases in existence in early July, 1942. The Japanese did have a flying boat base at Tulagi, but if I'm not mistaken this was only established in late July and consisted of only some flying boats and a sea plane tender in the anchorage, not a regular air field. The island of Bougainville was in Japanese possession by January, 1942, but the following web site; The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia: Bougainville mentions no Japanese air strips on Bougainville until 1943, and that would be consistent with what I have read in books like "Fire In The Sky" by Eric Bergerud, and Guadalcanal by Frank. Bergerud, and other others make the point that Japanese bomber strikes were escorted by Japanese fighters, operating at the extreme edge of their range and these strikes were reported by coast watchers as they flew down the string of islands between Rabaul and Guadalcanal. These comments would not make sense if the Japanese had operational air bases in places like Buin which was almost 200 miles closer to Guadalcanal than Rabaul. Richard Frank, in "Guadalcanal", mentions the Japanese air strikes proceeding from Rabaul and requiring four hours to reach Henderson field. Since the cruising speed of the G4M Betty was 170 knots that means they were operating at a range of roughly 680 nautical miles. If the Japanese had operational air bases in any of the intervening island, they certainly wouldn't have imposed that kind of strain on their planes and pilots. I will look up the distances from Lae, but I believe it was not much, if at all, less than the distance from Rabaul, and in any case was on New Guinea and not in the Solomons or any nearby islands.

    For these reasons, I have to challenge your assertion.

    Glenn239's assumptions always turn out to be more simple that they actually are in real life. Navigation over water in a military aircraft is never as simple as flying a rhumb line there and back. Yes, they could find the coast of Australia, it is pretty hard to miss after all, but once there, how do they know whether they are 30 miles south of Darwin, or 35 miles north? make a wrong turn and they are dead meat. Also, if the weather isn't clear, they might easily miss Darwin even if they directly overflew it. And the return trip, after aerial combat would have to be flown by pilots confused and disoriented by the radical maneuvers required of fighters. They might be already to seaward of Darwin with no chance to obtain bearings from fixed points.

    Moreover, to be of any real use, the planes at Timor have to be prepared to carry out anti-shipping strikes against Allied naval units operating against Japanese naval units, logistical shipping or Darwin itself. That means they must be able to navigate precisely over open water, and more importantly must be trained to attack ships; the IJA did not train it's pilots to do that.

    Well, that makes much more sense, but that also means the carriers will have to stick around quite a bit longer and you had better be prepared to operate a regular ferry route from Timor to Darwin because there were five Allied air bases due south of Darwin, and all of them within close fighter range. There is going to be an awful lot of attrition on those Army aircraft, as well as the bases they fly from.

    That's possible, but there were other more subtle reasons, not the least of which was that the First Marine Division was part of the Navy and directly under the control of Admiral King, whereas the two American divisions already in Australia, and the one on New Caledonia, were Army divisions under the control of General Marshall. Marshall wanted Macarthur to have overall command of the Solomons campaign while King threatened to carry out the invasion of Guadalcanal without the Army's help, if necessary.

    It's not clear to me what point you are trying to make, or imply here. But it's not shortchanging anyone to use a trained amphibious unit to make an amphibious landing, that's why they were trained in that art. And it doesn't take an entire division to train another division.


    That may be so in the historical time line, but would it be so if the Japanese were threatening a landing at Darwin? I don't think Nimitz would put quite so much emphasis on the lines of communication between Hawaii and Australia, if his intelligence was telling him the Japanese invasion was aimed at western Australia.

    The situation at Guadalcanal that made an Allied defeat seem likely wasn't lack of man power; the US troops outnumbered the Japanese on the island by a healthy margin and were operating on interior lines. What made defeat seem a possibility was a lack of naval and air support and tenuous logistical lines.
     
  7. Glenn239

    Glenn239 Member

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    Nagumo’s decision to wait was his own personal command choice based on his understanding of the tactical situation and did not “comply” with any Japanese doctrine. .



    Balderdash. Doctrine can be conveyed by issuing authorities in any number of manners, and that includes by direct order. Any order or guideline issued by a command authority detailing the specific use of resources or specific elements in the conduct of a battle, etc., is a doctrinal instruction. When Yamamoto orders Nagumo to maintain a reserve and take exceptional precautions to guard against flank attack, these verbal instructions are the guidelines that he is to abide by for that battle.



    Different Japanese carrier admirals had different “habits” while using the same air units. Witness Yamaguchi’s practices while operating independently at Wake and Hara’s at Coral Sea.

    When Yamaguchi complained to Yamamoto about Nagumo’s command prior to the Battle of Midway, he didn’t talk about the failings of Japanese “doctrine”. He told Yamamoto that Nagumo was too timid in character, too slow and deliberate in his thinking, and never exploited opportunities that presented themselves to him. These personality traits of Nagumo and his chief advisor that Yamaguchi pinned were what caused him to act too slowly at Midway and lose the battle. Japan did not lose Midway because of faulty doctrine - that's Ameritrash rubbish. Japan lost because Nagumo was not a sharp carrier commander, Japanese codes were broken, because of bad Japanese luck, good American luck, and Nimitz's eye for opportunity.



    The Japanese had no doctrine for conducting base attacks with a flanking threat from enemy carriers. Yamamoto told Nagumo’s command to create one, and after Nagumo ignored him he imposed a doctrine upon him, which Nagumo promptly ignored.



    Tully and Parshall can think what they like; there was no Japanese doctrine that said it was better to accept being attacked than to strike quickly with weak forces. This decision at Midway was Nagumo’s own personal choice, and was made in the absence of doctrine under a set of tactical circumstances. I quoted Lundstrom; had Nagumo realised the US carriers were closer, it is probable he would have struck immediately.

    Nagumo went against the advice of Yamaguchi in his delay (who Tully and Parshall vent against for his request to strike immediately, perhaps because Yamaguchi’s signal to the flagship shows that there was no set Japanese rule for the situation they found themselves in). His decision also surprised Fuchida, who assumed that upon spotting the US carrier Nagumo would strike instantly. (Shattered Sword did suggest, without providing proof, that Fuchida was lying. But the fact is that Nagumo's strike leader, who was intimately familiar with all forms of Japanese doctrine, went on record as expecting Nagumo to order an immediate attack.)
     
  8. Glenn239

    Glenn239 Member

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    This one is pretty close to certainty; the Marines are not invading Guadalcanal while Nagumo is running around with 8 fleet carriers. Nimitz is not accepting an all-on carrier battle with the Japanese until he either has numerical superiority, an ambush potential, or a serious land based air advantage. If Nimitz gets dragged into battle in support of an isolated garrison, he sacrifices all of his advantages and fights on Japan’s terms. Guadalcanal ain’t worth that, so he won’t do it. If Darwin makes him do it, then Yamamoto would want an invasion of Darwin to get the opportunity for the decisive naval battle. You write,

    The situation at Guadalcanal that made an Allied defeat seem likely wasn't lack of man power; the US troops outnumbered the Japanese on the island by a healthy margin and were operating on interior lines. What made defeat seem a possibility was a lack of naval and air support and tenuous logistical lines.


    BTW - do you even keep track of your own arguments? You have the US carriers at Perth and the US Marines invading Guadalcanal with no support.




    Of course you do. Maybe someone else believes that if Japan invades Darwin, FDR sacks Nimitz and puts MacArthur in command of the whole theatre. Maybe someone else thinks that Nimitz and MacArthur would fall madly in love while jointly discussing the Japanese invasion of Darwin.

    So what?



    The Japanese invaded Midway and the Aleutians simultaneously.



    The Japanese were dumb enough to believe they could pull off surprise attacks on Midway and Ceylon and Darwin.



    Naturally - logistic difficulties only applied only to the Japanese. Stretching the supply lines for a huge US battle fleet around Australia would be a snap.



    Question repeated: Before you posted your opinion that the Japanese army could not fly planes over open water, did you remember that Japanese army planes had flown over hundreds of miles, each way, to bomb Malaya and Luzon in December 1941?

    You write,

    No, in light of the quotation I have just presented, I would ask for the source of that information, and a detailed quotation documenting your claim..

    To be clear – are you asking me to provide a citation that IJA aircraft bombed the Philippines and Malaya from bases in Indochina and Formosa in December 1941? That IJA aircraft at these locations ferried to forward bases across the open sea as these were captured? Just out of curiousity. If I post these, what is your backup plan? To complain some more that you were misunderstood?

    Twenty three Oscars and six Lilies of the 6th Air Division delivered the Japanese counterblow at Guadalcanal. They returned with claims of destroying four large aircraft and four fighters at a cost of at least one Oscar

    Guadalcanal – 583

    Seems like these army guys found Guadalcanal, no?

    Your quote says that the Japanese army aircraft sent to Rabaul did not have the aircraft or sufficient training to conduct combat missions against Guadalcanal. Unless the Americans were kind enough to provide radio homing beacons at Henderson Field and guide aircraft to lead the Japanese there, then it has nothing to do with air ferrying.

    You stated the IJA could not air ferry over open water. I want a citation for that statement please.
     
  9. Glenn239

    Glenn239 Member

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    Standard practice for the Japanese was that the carriers would cover the landings until air power had been set up ashore. Once this was done, then the carriers would bugger off on their next mission. Following the pattern of Malaya and Luzon, IJA planners would ferry KI-43 Oscars and any bombers into Darwin from land bases directly, probably from Timor. If older KI-27’s were used, these might have to be sent in by ship.

    I think the discussion has identified the pros and cons of a Darwin option already. It ran the risk of overstretch of Japanese resources, and like many diversions, might start as a minor side show and transform into a major test of strength. On the other hand, the Allies were cautious by nature and saddled with the disadvantages of coalition command. Australian demands could not be ignored, making the large diversion of Allied resources into a pointless campaign probable. The best case for Japan is to dodge the Solomons campaign altogether while conserving naval and aerial strength, and fighting where it was logistically beneficial do to so.
     
  10. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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  11. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Can you name those "8 fleet carriers" that Nagumo supposedly is running around with? I can count only 6.

    Not necessarily. No one can predict what Nimitz might do if the six Japanese carriers are tied to an invasion of Darwin for a month or so. Guadalcanal might easily be worth getting an edge on Rabaul while the IJN is committed elsewhere. In any case, Nimitz could use land-based air in assaulting Guadalcanal with a little nit better planning.

    I would point out that Yamamoto also fought his own commander pretty hard to get Midway, but he wasn't really happy about getting his "decisive battle" when all was said and done. LOL!

    Yes, I do, you just don't bother to read them. I've already pointed out that, historically, naval air support lasted just 36 hours for the Marines at Guadalcanal, whereas with better planning the Marines could have enjoyed land-based air support for the entire twelve days it took to get planes in to Henderson Field.

    Do you have a point?

    Well, besides getting their clocks cleaned pretty thoroughly at Midway, they didn't surprise anyone at Ceylon. Darwin did achieve tactical surprise; one out of three ain't so good.

    Logistics wouldn't be easy for either side, but the Allies had far more resources, and, in the immediate area, far better bases than the Japanese.

    I thought my request was pretty clear; I want to know the details, what kind of aircraft were involved, was there any special training, did the IJNAF assist, and, if so, in what way. Since I've posted a citation already, indicating that navigation training for Army pilots proved to be a severe problem at Rabaul, rendering IJAAF reinforcements "worthless" there, I think it's a reasonable request.

    Let's see, you first claim that IJA planes flew over three hundred miles of open water to conduct strikes against the Philippines in 1941. When that assertion is challenged, you cite Frank in "Guadalcanal" to the effect that twenty-three "Oscars" and six "Lillies" (both IJA type aircraft) struck at Guadalcanal on February 1, 1943. There is no indication of where they were based, but information I can find in other sources indicates the Japanese 6th. Air Division was based at Rabaul at that time. The flight from Rabaul to Guadalcanal is certainly not over open water; there is a string of islands pointing directly at Guadalcanal from Rabaul and each successive island can be clearly seen from the last one. Therefore, that entire flight could be conducted with out any over water navigational training simply by flying from one island to the next. This is the complete opposite of conditions between Timor and Darwin and in no way undermines my original assertion.

    However, in researching this response I did find additional support for my assertion that Japanese Army pilots were not trained for either anti-shipping strikes, nor over water navigation;

    "...The [Japanese] Navy felt, however, that it alone was unable to make the necessary commitment in terms of air forces, due to the depletion of its air units in Rabaul. In late August it therefore asked the Army to send some of its forces to reinforce the air effort in the Solomons and New Guinea area.

    The Army considered the Navy's request, and almost immediately rejected it. First of all, the Army was not inclined to make a major commitment in the South Pacific area, because it still felt that it's traditional area of responsibility was the Asian mainland, while the Pacific Ocean area was the traditional responsibility of the Navy. This had been the understanding since the establishment of the Japanese Army and Navy in the late 19th Century, and while there was no formal written agreement to this effect, the Army and Navy's doctrines, training, tactics, strategy and equipment were all based upon it. Over the years the Army's air units had been prepared almost solely for fighting a war with Japan's traditional enemy on the continent, Russia. The Army had never even considered the possibility of conducting air operations in the New Guinea-Solomons area, and recognized that it knew almost nothing about the geographic, climatic and other conditions of the South Pacific."


    Japanese air operations over New Guinea during the Second World War. - Free Online Library

    Let's look at exactly what my citation says, rather than your interpretation;I posted the following;

    "From "Fire In The Sky", Eric Bergerud, page 328;

    "Experienced naval pilots from other areas in Southeast Asia were exchanged for Rabaul veterans weakened by malaria and stress. In 1943, the Army agreed to send major reinforcements, bu this expediency proved a failure, according to Ohmae: 'The Army had just come into Rabaul, but it was no help, Japanese Army units had no training in navigation and in any event these planes had too short a range.'
    "

    The statement neither says, nor implies, anything about ferrying of Army aircraft over the reaches of the Pacific. Nor have I ever said or implied anything about ferrying of Japanese aircraft. You were the one who brought up the issue of ferrying Japanese aircraft and seem to be afraid of the issue, presumably because losses of Army aircraft and pilots on ferry flights over the Pacific were prohibitive. However, I have made no assertions on this topic and do not have any burden to prove anything about Japanese Army aircraft ferry missions. My assertion is that because of the necessity of a long over water flight, Japanese Army pilots and planes would probably prove of "no help" for the same reasons they did at Rabaul.

    Sorry, but I made no such statement. if you want a citation about Japanese air ferrying activities, you'll have to supply it yourself.
     
  12. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    That's more or less true, but it must be noted that when it worked early in the war, The Japanese were not faced with Allied air bases which could launch immediate and effective counter-attacks against the newly established Japanese air bases. They would have to face that at Darwin.

    As proposed, such an invasion would be anything but a "diversion" because there would be no other Japanese operations which would benefit from such a diversion. By mid-1942, in order to carry out such a plan, Japan's IGHQ has to abandon or suspend all other significant operations in order to have enough naval and air support to effect an invasion of Darwin. Opposing the Darwin invasion would not be a waste of time or resources for the Allies because, even if they use disproportionate forces, they would still inflict disproportionate losses on the Japanese who cannot afford those losses in troops, aircraft, and ships, particularly logistical shipping.

    A Darwin campaign would be pointless, for the Japanese because any significant confrontation with Allied forces accelerates their losses and also the increasing Allied superiority in numbers of aircraft, experienced pilots, and ships. There is absolutely no historical reason to believe that by engaging in such a campaign the Japanese would be able to conserve air and naval unit's; on the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that by engaging the Allies in Australia, their air and naval unit losses would increase.
     
  13. Glenn239

    Glenn239 Member

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    There was no such doctrine. The Japanese had no set of instructions, codified or assumed, that stated the big strike was automatically better or worse than a first strike. You will have realized this from the fact that Yamamoto’s instruction to leave a reserve automatically meant accepting less than an all-out strike on Midway, in favor of guarding against a potential ambush.

    The decision at Midway was purely Nagumo’s, did not reflect any consensus within the Japanese navy about the matter and was taken by Nagumo only under a set of unique tactical circumstances and difficulties. Had Nagumo been following Yamamoto's doctrine, he would have kept his torpedo bombers armed with torpedoes so that he could fire a strike at the interlopers as rapidly as possible. If that isn't giving up max. strike potential in favour of rapid response, then what is?

    At Coral Sea, another Japanese carrier admiral operating within the same set of doctrinal boundries came to the opposite conclusion and went for the first strike option. The difference was not doctrine, but rather, the quality and outlook of the commander.



    Yamamoto verbally gave to Nagumo specific fighting instructions, guidelines, operational procedure, for the conduct of the upcoming Midway battle. These instructions dealt with flank attack by enemy carrier forces, a situation that the Japanese at the time had no doctrine for. Yamamoto, as the commanding officer of the Combined Fleet and Nagumo’s direct superior, had absolute authority to issue to Nagumo any set of fighting instructions that he wished. Doctrine is fighting instructions, or guidelines, and can be issued in any number of manners.



    That you know more about Japanese doctrine than Fuchida did, apparently. The guy that led the attack on Pearl Harbor is less an authority on Japanese carrier tactics than you?.

    I mean, at least Shattered Sword provided some form of explanation; that Fuchida was lying to make Nagumo look bad. Snore. Change the channel, Marge!
     
  14. Glenn239

    Glenn239 Member

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    Yes, that your theory that Nimitz gets a bigger command at the expense of MacArthur when the Japanese invade Darwin might really be more likely than MacArthur and Nimitz having a torrid love affair during personal discussions on a Japanese invasion of Darwin. On a side note, that going off on a tangent with unlikely theories isn't really productive to a general discussion.
    You said the Japanese couldn’t do two invasions at once. But the Japanese did Midway and the Aleutians at the same time. Therefore, in mid-1942 the Japanese could do two invasions at once.

    It’s not a question of who ultimately had more, but of the shoestring nature to the American commitment even in the South Pacific at the time. Fletcher was operating on a wing and a prayer at Coral Sea in May 1942 – and that was with just two fleet carriers far closer than the Indian Ocean.

    I asked you for a quote that said IJA pilots could not air ferry to a
    friendly base from 450 miles.
     
  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Deviladvocate wrote:
    I researched it also, that's why I made my statement. I started with Morrisons, "The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War", the Marine Corps Historical monograph on the Guadalcanal Campaign, and Samuel B. Griffith's "The Battle for Guadalcanal". I got a list of locations in the area that the Japanese landed and where airfields eventually were cited as being located. I then backtracked to find out the first mention of the airfield being operational. Many of the web sites I visited gave contradictory information so I delved deeper. One location that I had different sources giving it's existance/non existance, I included because of an Army Air Corps reconnaissance photo showing the crushed coral airstrip. Another I included because when reading an Australian report on the Japanese occupation, it stated that the Australians, in December 1941, were originally ordered to render the airfield unusable (a location where no airfield was supposed to exist according to several sources). They had just started complying when they were ordered to repair it to accommodate allied aircraft falling back before the Japanese onslaught. The Japanese landed shortly after it was repaired If I could find no definative information I resorted to Morrisons, "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II", if I still did not find a definative answer, I did not include in my list.

    Deviladvocate wrote:
    In my original post I stated that,
    So I did specify it was a seaplane base not an airfield. Actually the airfield on Guadalcanal was started on 3 July. The seaplane base existed as early as 4 May when aircraft from the Yorktown raided Tulagi, Gavutu and Tanambogo, they destroyed 5 seaplanes (plus sank a destroyer, 3 minecraft and 4 barges). There are also a number of reports of Japanese seaplanes bringing officers in to plan and oversee the defensive preparations in early June.

    I think part of answer, that you are not considering, is that the bases in question lacked sufficient air capacity at this time to make a major strike on their own. That does not however prevent thier aircraft from marrying up with a large strike out of Rabaul and accompanying it to Guadalcanal, providing additional strike aircraft or fighter escort.

    I did some research here also and it appears that most were existing prewar airfields and not operational military airfields. Australia did a smart thing and had plans in place to utilize these in the event of an emergency. That said however, they did not have the support elements in place to conduct military operations. I do not have an answer as to how long it would take to get the necessary supplies, equipment and support personel on site to make the airfields operational in a military sense. That would just be a guess. If you have a source on this aspect of the discussion, I would be interested in checking it out for my own personal edification.

    This is just speculation. If there were other amphib trained units this might be a valid point. The fact is this was America's first offensive and first amhibious assault, failure would have been extremely harmful to the U.S. war effort and the country's morale. Even though the personalities mentioned would play politics when they could, I doubt either King, Nimitz or Marshall would take a chance here. The stakes were too great.
     
  16. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Devilsadvocate wrote:

    Where did I state that the Marines were shortchanged, which is what you are implying here. The powers that be made the correct choice because this was an amphibious operation and the 1st MarDiv was one of only two divisions fully trained in this type operation. Here's my entire quote:

    This post was in reply to your question:

    -I never said the Marines were chosen because of close proximity to Australia. In fact I specifically stated they were on the East Coast.
    -the italicized portion of your quote seems to infer that I had other motives for mentioning the Marines. The post was meant to spell out the reasons I brought it up. And I specifically stated so in the beginning of the post,

    -I thought I was fairly clear on who I thought were shortchanged. The Army units scheduled for the Torch Landings because their training in amphibious operations was cut short by pulling the unit training them, two regiments of the 1st Marine Division. If the Torch landings had been stoutly resisted this shortened training could have proved disastrous. Now. why would those running the war, put at risk an operation, in the theater they had decided should take priority, unless there was a situation they thought critical enough to justify the risk.

    I thought that I'd covered this also. With the withdrawl of the 1st MarDiv the only remaining fully trained, amphibious unit in the United States was the 2d Marines of the 2d MarDiv, (located on the west coast in southern California) and they were attached to the 1st MarDiv to bring it up to strength for the Guadalcanal Operation. This left no, zero, zip, nada, qualified units of any size in CONUS to carry out the training.

    If there were all these units laying around in theater, why couldn't one regiment be spared to free up 7th Marines for the invasion? The answer is simple. Of the units available in theater, those being fully capable were being utilized to protect areas the military hign command felt threatened. All other units were either not fully trained, were in the process of being brought up to full strength or were not fully combat ready in some other area.

    The above explaination should answer this statement.
     
  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Devilsadvocate wrote:
    While the U.S. lacked in the areas mentioned they also had insufficient manpower to adequately defend the Guadalcanal airfield. I cannot believe that someone familiar with the Guadalcanal campaign would make this statement.
    Vandergrift not only had to guard the three landward sides of the perimeter (front and two flanks), because of Japanese naval supremacy, he also had to guard the seaward side of the perimeter from counter landings. The 2d Marines had been retained at Tulagi, Gavutu and Tanambogo. He had the 1st Raider Bn and the greatly reduced 1st Parachute Bn returned to Guadalcanal from these other nearby islands to assist his two remaining regiments in the defense of the perimeter. lacking adequate manpower to conduct offensive operations and gard the airfield/base he allowed the Japanese to assume the initiative. They could strike with local superiority of numbers at any spot along the perimeter. The best Vandergrift could hope for was to slow a Japanese breakthrough enough to allow reserve forces to counter attack and restore the lines.
    All the following are pertinant quotes from the marine Corps Monograph to illustrate some of the problems the Marines faced.
    After Savo the transports hauled arse back to Espiritu Santo, even taking some of the troops.

     
  18. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I also got a lot of conflicting data on the airfields and when they were operational, that's why I requested sates and sources for each base. One thing I relied on was that all of the early Japanese air attacks against the Marines and ships at Guadalcanal had to be launched from Rabaul. Every author that commented claimed it put great stress on Japanese offensive capabilities and especially their fighter escorts. I therefore assumed that meant they had no operational bases closer to Guadalcanal than Rabaul; I'm not convinced this is incorrect.

    Was the seaplane base at Tulagi in operation in early July, 1942? In any case, my original statement was there were no operational air fields in the Solomons in early July; I do mot consider a seaplane base an "airfield" since there are no runways.

    Not according to Richard Frank; Frank says quite plainly in "Guadalcanal", Page 31, that the Japanese prepared for construction on the air field at Lunga Point by burning the grass on the plain on June 20; but claims that the six-ship convoy that delivered the workers and construction equipment did not arrive until July 6. He places Coastwatcher Martin Clemens on the scene and has him speculating with other coastwatchers about the reason for the burning, and deducing that the equipment is for airfield construction, so radio logs should confirm the date. Frank's notes indicate that he drew on Martin Clemens unpublished manuscript titled "A Coastwatcher's Diary". Frank says a photocopy of this manuscript is in the Marine Corps Historical Center.

    But did that happen? From what I have read, it didn't until long after the Marine invasion in August. Again, if there isn't an air complement more or less permanently assigned to a base, I do not consider that air field to be "operational".


    Four of the five air fields situated to the South of Darwin were fully operational in the May/June 1942 time frame because US fighter or bomber groups were stationed there. The fifth air field, Long Air Field, also may well have had either RAAF or RAF air units stationed there. I just was not able to verify the dates in relation to Long Airfield.

    The field furthest south of Darwin, Daly Waters, 275 miles distant, served the US 64th Bomb Squadron from May 16, 1942 to August 2, 1942 as it's home field.

    Fenton Air Field, 88 miles south of Darwin was home to the US 530th. Bomb Squadron from5/1/42 until 8/9/44.

    Batchelor Air Field, 44 miles south of Darwin was home to the 27th. Bombardment Group from March, 1942 until May, 1942, the 71st. Bomb Squadron from April 30, 1942 until September 19, 1942, and the 7th. Fighter Squadron from April 9, 1942 until September 19, 1942.

    Manbulloo Air Field, 177 miles from Darwin was home to the US 59th Bomb Squadron from April 28, 1942 until November 7, 1942.

    United States Army Air Forces in Australia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    That pretty much proves there were numerous operational Allied air fields ideally positioned to strike any Japanese forces attempting a landing at Darwin. As for support, The Australian air bases in the Northern part of the country were maintained in an operational status except for ground crews so that they could be used as emergency dispersal bases if home fields were attacked. If necessary, ground crews could be quickly flown in to make the bases fully operational on about 48 hours notice.

    No, it is a fact which Frank documents in his book. King told Marshall in a letter that if Mac wasn't going to cooperate (by furnishing Army-controlled units), that he, (King) would launch an invasion on his own. He wrote that letter to Marshall on June 26, and on June 27th, directed Nimitz to prepare for the operation on the premise that only Navy and Marine units would be available. ("Guadalcanal", page 33).
     
  19. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Just found a reference in Frank's "Guadalcanal", (page 267), wherein he states that the "projected completion date" for the Japanese air field at Buin on the south end of Bougainville was September 26, 1942. Buin was 260 NM closer to Henderson Field than Rabaul, which was 560 NM from Henderson. However, Frank says plans for the completion of Buin Air Field "went awry" but he does not explain why. Buin was evidently completed some time in October, 1942.

    Frank also relates (pages 525-26), that the Japanese began construction of a new air field at Munda on New Georgia, only 170 miles from Henderson Field, on November 23, 1942. This field was completed and became operational on December 23, 1942, but immediately began to be pounded by aircraft from Henderson Field. By December 27, the Japanese realized it was hopeless trying to establish an air field so close to Guadalcanal and, at the cost of one Betty bomber, three flyable Zeros and the surviving pilots were evacuated.

    It certainly appears to me from these references that the Japanese, in early July, 1942, had no operational air fields closer to Guadalcanal than Rabaul. If they had, they surely would have made use of them to attack Henderson Field, before expending so much labor and resources at Buin and Munda.
     
  20. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    That was not the quotation I was responding to. here is the statement you made to which I was responding;

    "Originally Posted by USMCPrice
    To shortchange the preparations of the assigned Army units by pulling out the unit teaching them amphibious techniques. Trained, battle ready units were not readily available to return one of the 1st MarDiv's three organic infantry battalions, off defending Samoa."


    No, you never did, but the implication you raised by citing the First Marine Division was that there were no other US ground forces in the South pacific and to effect a landing on Guadalcanal, it was necessary for the JCS to scrape the barrel by selecting a division from the US east Coast. That was a false implication.

    And yes, I understand you thought the US Army units in training were somehow being "shortchanged when the First Marine Division was chosen to land on Guadalcanal. That is just not true. First, it isn't necessary to tie up an entire Marine Division to train another division in amphibious technique. The Marines had plenty instructors with just as much amphibious experience as the First Marine Division. These instructors were employed to train units and the First Marine Division was meant to make amphibious assault landings. It is not "shortchanging anybody for them to perform their respective jobs as intend.

    See above; who trained the First Marine Division? Those instructors were still around; use them.

    There were already two US Army divisions in Australia, and one partially in Australia and partially in New Caledonia. There were several reasons the First Marine Division was chosen including they were amphibiously trained and under Navy control. There would be no sense in attaching an Army regiment to a Marine Division simply to bring it up to authorized strength; the training and command problems that would create simply wouldn't be worth it. Besides that Mac controlled all the Army units in Australia and wasn't going to release a squad, let alone a regiment, to Navy command.
     

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