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Pearl Harbor vs. open seas

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by sPzAbt 503, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    The polls had changed by Sept. of 1941. Actually the isolationist position had peaked in about 1937, but after the conspicuous failure of the "Munich Agreement", and silliness of appeasement appeared, it began to wane. Then at least one nation they had held up as an example of the success of their stance; "neutral non-involvement" (Belgium) was over-run by an even more aggressive Germany in spite of a promise by Hitler not to do so.

    Then they pinned their hopes on the defensive stance of a strong (military) as in France, it too fell to Nazi aggression. So the ambivalence of the public mood in the late thirties clear into 1941, became more and more evident as the Nazis overran western Europe and Scandinavia; signed "non-aggression pacts" with Stalin’s Soviet, drove the BEF off the continent, and then attacked Britain by air.

    In one of the last pre-war polls during the last weeks preceding Pearl Harbor, Gallup's interviews concluded (less than a week before the Japanese attack) that while about one-quarter thought war was avoidable and could be forestalled if not eliminated, slightly more than one-half of Americans expected that "the United States will go to war against Japan sometime in the near future." Earlier a similar percentage had expressed a "willingness to risk war with Nazi Germany in favor of Great Britain." (emphasis mine)

    This was shortly after that lying snake Hitler had once again ignored a treaty and or pact and invaded the USSR in mid-41! In short order Hitler had made and broken "non-aggression pacts" with Poland and the USSR, promised to observe Belgian neutrality, and over-run it, invaded both Denmark and Norway, and defeated France.

    In short, from a historical point of view using both hindsight and then existing public opinion, it appears probable that (even if the Japanese had not taken the initiative), the American public would soon have endorsed the U.S. entering the war anyway. Thus, in the period directly preceding Pearl Harbor, Americans were shifting gradually, but more and more rapidly away from their prior mood of introversion/isolation to the mood of extroversion/intervention.

    As an amusing aside, those polled in the land-locked mid west and mountain states were the staunchest "isolationists". Likely feeling safe so far from the ocean shores. Those polled on the coast-lines had a more realistic and pragmatic approach, in that they favored building up our defensive forces (conscription and weapons purchase), but only for self-defense. The smaller group of total pacifist isolationists were against any war at any cost, while the greater share were for self-defense, and retaliation if attacked, but not declaring war unilaterally. These polls were taken of voting age male and females in the US prior to the Pearl Harbor attack.

    Gallup poll #248, Question 3 (mid-Sept 1941), 55% of Americans believed that the country was already involved in the war. As shown in Question 5K and 5T of the same poll, a little over 1/2 of all Americans believed FDR was doing the right thing with his actions (that 55%), while about another 20% believed he hadn't gone far enough. A near complete reversal of the numbers from early 1941 when only about 17% favored going to war! (there are your early early '41 numbers ANZAC)

    Furthermore, in Question 6 of Poll #248, 60% of Americans approved of the decision to fire on German submarines. Finally, a great majority of Americans answered in Questions 11K and 11T that American democracy and German fascism could not co-exist. Now, while in that same poll the vast majority answered they did not want to declare or go to war unilateraly at the time, they approved of FDR's actions (Gallup Poll #248, Question 13 revealed that 2/3 of Americans support FDR's policies in general as well as his foreign policy specifically by Sept.).
     
  2. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    The American bases being available for British/Dutch sea & air power was OK, but the problem was that Britain [let alone the Dutch] had very little in the way of air power or sea power to man their own bases, let alone use American bases.

    Singapore ''the Gibraltar of the East'' was a massive Naval base, the only trouble it had next to no warships in harbour, it wasn't until Australia's PM Curtain urged Churchill to beef up Singapore that Churchill sent the only capital ships to arrive at Singapore, the Prince of Wales & Repulse & they were sitting ducks without air cover. [A carrier was supposed to accompany them but ran aground & couldn't join them.]

    And the few Dutch cruisers, who even with Australian, British & American cruisers were quickly dispatched by a handful of Japanese heavy cruisers at Java Sea.

    The threadbare British [& Australian] forces in the Far East had been drained of the best personnel and materiel by two years of war with Germany, and heavily committed in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere, & the RN involved in the Atlantic & Mediterranean.

    That's why at Placentia Bay in August Churchill urged the US to join Britain if British bases were attacked by the Japanese because the RN was stretched to the limit, but Roosevelt turned him down.

    He was still not ready to commit the US to joining the war if Japan attacked British or Dutch possessions in the far east, & even turned down Churchill's request to a send a squadron of cruisers to fly the flag in Singapore, America was still unprepared for war & Roosevelt was reminded how powerful isolationist support was still running when the house passed by a single vote the bill to continue the draft and federalize the National guard units on Aug 12 '41.
    So it seems there would be no US going to war in the short to medium term 'if' the Japanese didn't attack US possessions.


    By then some 60/70% of Americans wanted a 'tougher' stance by the US against the Axis powers, & supported FDR's policies in general, & even many isolationist were for a strong military, but as you say the polls showed the vast majority answered they still did not want to declare or go to war unilaterally at the time....

    Any chance you could you give me a link to those polls, or the % of those against
    unilateral action?
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "He was still not ready to commit the US to joining the war if Japan attacked British or Dutch possessions in the far east, & even turned down Churchill's request to a send a squadron of cruisers to fly the flag in Singapore, America was still unprepared for war & Roosevelt was reminded how powerful isolationist support was still running when the house passed by a single vote the bill to continue the draft and federalize the National guard units on Aug 12 '41.
    So it seems there would be no US going to war in the short to medium term 'if' the Japanese didn't attack US possessions."

    That flies in the face of the Gallup data posted here and the research I've done. If you read the debates surrounding the passage of that bill you'll get a clearer picture of the issues involved.
     
  4. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Saddly those poll archives aren't available for "free" on the net to my knowledge. I had taken two poli-sci classes back in the early 90's when I returned to college to finish my degree. The instructor, Dr. Wilson had authored a book for the class and also had photo-copies of Gallup/Roper polls over the decades for lab study.

    I couldn't sell them back to the book store when I finished with them, so I kept them and used them in gathering that information. I have the collection of my old text books out in my storage shed about 20 miles away ever since I cleaned out my bookcase of stuff I wasn't using every day or even every month.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    If you go to pearlharborattacked.com and search for "gallup" you'll find a bit more information on this. I remember there was quite a bit of discussion about this at one point.
     
  6. Glenn239

    Glenn239 Member

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    If the United States exploits the continuation of peace to transform the Philippines into an unassailable fortress, then Japan has pretty much lost the war have they not?

    p.
     
  7. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    Yamamoto was an interesting figure, he was against war with the US [& it made him a prime target of the extremist nationalists, in 1939 he had to be sent to sea as C in C of the combined fleet as the only way to save his life.] he'd been a student of the U.S. Naval War College and of Harvard University & toured major ship building yards, he knew that military victory in a protracted war against the US with the population and industrial advantage as the US possessed, was impossible.

    And wiki says he is also known to have been upset by the bungling of the Foreign Ministry which led to the attack happening while the countries were technically at peace, thus making the incident an unprovoked sneak attack that would certainly enrage the enemy.

    The only other poll results I could find were...

    A poll on August 5th '41, Question [4]... Should the US go to war against Japan now?... yes 22% no 78% October 22 '41 yes 13% no 74%

    The American Pageant, Volume 2 ... - Google Books


    Found my book ''The Pacific War'' by John Costello he says that when Churchill & Roosevelt [& their Chiefs of Staff] meet at Placentia Bay in August '41, that The US delegation headed by Gen Marshal, Admiral Starke & Gen Arnold had decided before hand not to make any commitment that might give the British an opportunity to march them down the road to war, the Americans had their own agenda, & they were going to stick to it.

    Churchill had encouraged the President to prevent Japan from 'taking the plunge' by issuing a formal declaration that any attack on British or Dutch possessions in the Far East would bring the US into the war, but Roosevelt, who in light of his domestic political situation, [with Public opinion polls indicating that while 6 out of 10 Americans were ready for firm action against the Japanese only 4 out of 10 were prepared to risk war] informed Churchill that he could not formally declare war at this time: ''If I were to ask Congress to declare war they might argue about it for months."


    I guess nothing was going to save the Japanese from an ugly end, either If the US some time down the road decides to declares war on Japan, with the possibility of the Philippines being stronger in the 'what if' or the poor fortress it was historically.
    The Japanese virtually committed national hara-kiri in trying to fight a two/three front war against the US, along with Britain & the Commonwealth while still fighting China & up to a million men in Manchuria.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Quick note: I have seen Yamamoto's Harvard transcripts. He attended one semester of English classes at an extension site in Boston proper. He got a C- for that class and failed to appear for the second semester. That is the extent of his "Harvard Days".
     
  9. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Usually a mistake. I'll put a storage shed on the lawn before I park my books at some distant location again. I'm still moving my reseach material and books back to where can use them after that last fiasco.
     
  10. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    That is a nice option, if you haven't lost the house in the divorce and now live in a one bedroom apartment, with no front or back yard to call your own!
     
  11. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I feel you pain brother :(
     
  12. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Makes no difference how alert the USN would have been. They were on high alert at Savo, and look how well that turned out.

    Japanese would have six carriers to the USN's (maybe) three.

    They would attack at night, destroyers and cruisers leading the way, spotter planes dropping flares. The US OBB's didn't all have radar, and as at Savo, most captains didn't trust the new-fangled thingie, so they would likely not use it.

    Whatever was left, would be cleaned up by the IJN carriers.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Hard to get in range for a night action against a moving fleet without being in carrier range the day before.
     
  14. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    The US carriers won't be with the OBB's. The OBB's aren't fast enough, and don't assume the US would find the IJN first. Also, there's no reason to believe this fleet engagement would take place near Hawaii. Might have to take place closer to the Mariana's or the Caroline's. Advantage IJN.

    The Japanese generally had longer range aircraft, and theoretically locate the US fleet before the US found the Japanese.

    Two pronged attack (which Japanese planners love so much), six carriers worth of aircraft going after the Lexington, Saratoga, and Enterprise (Yorktown was still in the Atlantic). Don't count on a Midway miracle, as there is no land mass the Japanese need to attack to complicate their deck loading. Once the carrier battle is done, and the scales are tipped heavily in Japan's favor, then a night fleet action.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If it's that far west it isn't happening in 41 or 42 by 43 any Japanese advantages have pretty much evaporated.
    On the other hand Japanese doctrine called for using scout planes from cruisers for scouting where the US used carrier planes. So the US would likely have denser scout patterns.
    This is counter to Japanese doctrine of the time. The carriers were suppose to be used to thin out the US battleships.
     
  16. Skontos1

    Skontos1 Member

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    If the US had their battleships ready to roll from the start the Japanese would have been road kill, they knew that that's why they wanted to take them out at pearl. A fully loaded US fleet? Japs wanted no part of that taking out those battleships at least allowed them some kind of advantage at least early on
     
  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    We need some more scenario here, please. Where/When/Who/What, at least. The Japanese were hoping the fleet would be at Lahaina Anchorage so they could sink ships in deep water.

    If you mean the US Fleet heading east to confront the Japanese, it would have been 3 USN CVs to six IJN CVs. Things would have gotten frisky for CinCUS, I think.
     
  18. Skontos1

    Skontos1 Member

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    We're assuming no PH attack, so what I'm seeing is at least 7 more battleships that are ready to mobilize against the Japanese right away. I'm not speaking specifically where because I don't know how no Pearl attack changes the setting of the battles that ensued. Are we saying here that the Japanese still attack Pearl after spelling out that's the plan with a formal war declaration? I mean because if that's the case and there's a battle of Pearl Harbor with the US fully expecting it and being prepared for it I'd think that those Japanese forces get sent back at Hawaii with a similar loss to their fleet like at Midway. With the difference now going forward the US would have those extra battleships to go on the offensive with.
     
  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Well, the Kido Butai was prepared to fight its way to Pearl if necessary, but they depended on surprise to get as close as possible before any fighting took place. Of course a declaration of war wouldn't have necessarily brought the US Fleet out of Pearl.
     
  20. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Not necessarily:

    Kido Butai had gotten a lot of rookie aviators in September 1941 and in order to bring them up to speed corners had to be cut. The crews that were tasked with level bombing attacks on the inner BB at PH did not train anything but level bombing. Thus Kido Butai had exactly 40 torpedo bomber crews that were trained for torpedo attacks. At PH they scored a 48% hit rate/19 hits.

    Let's say three hits sink a carrier and four a battleship. If the hits are distributed perfectly it takes 16 hits to sink all BB and another six to sink the CV. The total is 22, that's more than at PH and completely unrealistic. However Lex was fatally wounded by two torps and several bombs, Yorktown was disabled by two torps and several bombs. That brings the total down to 20 hits. Close enough to their results at PH but at PH they attacked stationary targets that at first didn't shoot back very much. No way they manage to score just as well against moving targets that send a torrent of steel their way.

    What would be a realistic reduction of their hit rate? 1/3 to 13 hits or 50% to 10 hits? That would cost the USN both CV and one or two BB.
     

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