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Musashi/Yamato called off

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#1 Chesehead121

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 01:25 AM

The Japanese Navy was the supreme fighting force in the Pacific for much of the war in terms of battleships. With the giants like the Yamato and the Musashi, they seemed invincible. Both the Yamato and Musashi had 18" guns which could hit targets over the horizon. However, the Yamato was sunk after an aerial attack, just as Yamamoto predicted, and the Musashi went down the same way, except without a massive explosion. In fact, the Musashi never fired a single shot against an enemy warship. Here is an alternative scenario:

1. What if Battleship No.1 (the Yamato) and Battleship No. 2 (the Musashi) are scrapped? The 64.9 million yen from just 1 of the battleships could be used to focus the Japanese Navy on aerial power. Carriers and Zeroes could be made to support the still-strong surface navy.

2. The Japanese have several new aircraft carriers with their Combined Fleet. It is time for the attack on Midway. Instead of leaving the air defenses and other crucial objectives relatively untouched, Midway is pounded. The surrounding area is also searched more thoroughly with the incoming planes and carriers in this scenario. The American carriers off Point Luck are spotted and forced to retreat. An invasion fleet is sent in to capture Midway. With the Americans and British pinned down by the relentless air attack, the Japanese capture Midway. The Japanese can now strike at Pearl Harbor even without carriers.

3. With the threat in the East finished, the Japanese turn their attention to island-hopping their way to Australia.

Therefore, with Hawaii under seige and the Japanese beginning their march down the islands, I would predict a temporary Japanese victory. America would sue for peace possibly giving up many claims in the Pacific, and the British and Australian lands would be annexed. However, it is Russia's turn. Seeing that the Japanese have nowhere else to turn but North, Russia reinforces its borders. Now Japan could either attack north which could cost hundreds of thousands of men they probably could not afford and gain little, or reinforce its claims in the Pacific and settle down out of the war.
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#2 Slipdigit

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 01:30 AM

I think that they would have been better off using at least a large part of the materials saved from those two white elephants to build an adequate escort fleet, considering that 70% of their warships and almost all of their commercial shipping was lost to submarines.

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#3 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 06:50 AM

Repoting ... (sic)
The japanese needed more than additional escorts to be able to put up a decent ASW force, the anti submarine weapons and detection systems were very poor compared to Allied standards.

The IJN simply did not plan for convoy warfare, either defensively or offensively, the plan was to destroy the local allied military forces, grab the resources and hope for war weariness and the difficulty of assaulting a heavily fortified position while at the end of a very long logistic tail to bring peace. That same plan had worked in 1905 but it required a powerful "fleet in being" to back the fortified line, without the Yamato class the Japanese only have the old Haruna and her sisters for a fast squadron and the overall disadvantge in BBs is too big. Let's not forget the "battleship admirals" ruled both camps, a perceived superiority in BBs will put an enormous pressure on the allied admirals to get aggressive.
If the allies start offensive operations fast enough to prevent Japanese consolidation the war is lost, and this is exactly what happened, though it involved carriers not BBs.

#4 lwd

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 01:47 PM

The Japanese Navy was the supreme fighting force in the Pacific for much of the war in terms of battleships.

Not really. By the end of 42 they were in second place. Indeed midd 42 is probably a closer date.

1. What if Battleship No.1 (the Yamato) and Battleship No. 2 (the Musashi) are scrapped? The 64.9 million yen from just 1 of the battleships could be used to focus the Japanese Navy on aerial power. Carriers and Zeroes could be made to support the still-strong surface navy.

By the time they could have been scrapped any carriers built from them would have been nothing more than targets. Not sure that there was that much commonality in resources between BBs and Zeroes and it was their pilot training program that was the real problem with the latter.

2. The Japanese have several new aircraft carriers with their Combined Fleet. It is time for the attack on Midway. Instead of leaving the air defenses and other crucial objectives relatively untouched, Midway is pounded. The surrounding area is also searched more thoroughly with the incoming planes and carriers in this scenario. The American carriers off Point Luck are spotted and forced to retreat. An invasion fleet is sent in to capture Midway. With the Americans and British pinned down by the relentless air attack, the Japanese capture Midway. The Japanese can now strike at Pearl Harbor even without carriers.

There have been some pretty convincing arguements that even if the US lost at Midway the Japanese couldn't have taken it. See [u]Shattered Sword[/] for a pretty good analysis. Even if they take Midway PH is a pretty tough nut to crack at this point in time.

3. With the threat in the East finished, the Japanese turn their attention to island-hopping their way to Australia.
....

To what purpose. They don't have the troops, the logistics, or the oil to take Australia. By the way this scenario is going to burn a lot more of the latter.

#5 Slipdigit

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 02:25 PM

Repoting ... (sic)
The japanese needed more than additional escorts to be able to put up a decent ASW force, the anti submarine weapons and detection systems were very poor compared to Allied standards.

The IJN simply did not plan for convoy warfare, either defensively or offensively, the plan was to destroy the local allied military forces, grab the resources and hope for war weariness and the difficulty of assaulting a heavily fortified position while at the end of a very long logistic tail to bring peace. That same plan had worked in 1905 but it required a powerful "fleet in being" to back the fortified line, without the Yamato class the Japanese only have the old Haruna and her sisters for a fast squadron and the overall disadvantge in BBs is too big. Let's not forget the "battleship admirals" ruled both camps, a perceived superiority in BBs will put an enormous pressure on the allied admirals to get aggressive.
If the allies start offensive operations fast enough to prevent Japanese consolidation the war is lost, and this is exactly what happened, though it involved carriers not BBs.


Yes, agree it would have taken a change in policy. It is unconscionable that they waited until the Spring of 1944 to even begin to institute a credable convoy and anti-sub program, given that they were an island nation, wholly dependent on shipping for much of their critical materials. My suggestion would be predicated on the thought that if they saw the need to build the escorts, that they would have also expended the effort to develop the weaponary and tactics to make them effective. They do go hand in hand.

My suggestion is another example of the What If conundrum, Why didn't they have 20/20 vision of the war then like we do now? :D
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#6 Chesehead121

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 07:28 PM

By the way Lwd, what I mean by "scrapped" I mean "thought of but never put on the table, only dreamt about feverishly". And I agree that for much of the war even they were slow on battleships. Taffy 3, the defenders of Leyte, know this all too well.I could be going off on a tangent now, but what if (yeah.) they took extra carriers to PH and blew the bloody bjesus out of the Pacific Fleet? Just saying.
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#7 Chesehead121

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 07:30 PM

Oh and about the Australia part, you're probably right on that, too. But at least it would have intimidated the British and Americans a bit.
To the German Commander-- Nuts.

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#8 MastahCheef117

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 01:19 AM

I thought this was a good scenario. However powerful and overwhelming the United States Navy was in the last years of the war, the Yamato and Musashi still posed a HUGE threat (as most of Japan's carriers had already been sunk). The Yamato and Musashi being scrapped may be focussed more on carriers but the United State's biggest threat at sea is neutralized.

Of course, this is saying after a Midway scenario. If this was done in like 39, then yes, the Japanese may have well succeeded against the United States.
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#9 Cpl. Butthead

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 01:28 PM

However, the Yamato was sunk after an aerial attack, just as Yamamoto predicted, and the Musashi went down the same way, except without a massive explosion. In fact, the Musashi never fired a single shot against an enemy warship. Here is an alternative scenario:


I think you got the Musashi confused with the Yamato. The Yamato never fired a shot at an enemy ship but the Musashi did; firing at Taffy 3 in Leyte Gulf. I think she and another BB or heavy cruiser sunk one or two of the American destroyers, but I can't quite remember.

#10 Takao

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 03:30 PM

Cpl. Butthead,

You're the one who has it confused. The Musashi was sunk, in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea by air attacks, before Kurita's fleet engaged Taffy 3. It was the Yamato that was firing on Taffy 3.
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#11 Carronade

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 07:02 PM

Yamato and Musashi took about four years to build, contemporary carriers like Shokaku about three, so if a decision had been made to build carriers at the time the Yamatos were conceived, they could have been in commission in time for the war. This also presumes that the Japanese accelerate their aircraft production and pilot/aircrew training; historically they had barely enough aircraft and aircrew to equip frontline units and virtually no reserves or replacements. The air groups of the newly commissioned Shokaku and Zuikaku in 1941 were considered second-rate by the experienced 1st and 2nd Carrier Divisions.

Carriers were less than half the tonnage of the Yamatos, though a comparison of construction cost is a bit more complicated. Heavy armor, guns, and turrets were particularly expensive. Carriers actually had slightly greater horsepower, so the cost of the engineering plant per ship would be about the same. One minor irony, Japanese battleships had catapults, carriers didn't. I would guess three carriers in exchange for the two super-battleships, with another 1-2 in the pipeline in lieu of Shinano.

Of course we should also consider the effect on other navies when it became known that the Japanese were building a mass of carriers and no new battleships. Even Japan could not keep her plans completely secret, although they did manage to conceal details of ships like Yamato. US battleships at the time took about three years to complete, carriers like Hornet or Essex about two. We were also better able to ramp up aircrew training. If we had stated building carriers instead of say the South Dakota class BBs, any advantage Japan seized would be very short-lived.

Edited by Carronade, 21 June 2010 - 07:43 PM.


#12 lwd

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 08:30 PM

On the other hand add extra ships and planes and the usage to train the crews of the same and that isn't going to help Japan's oil situation much.

#13 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 12:56 AM

The Japanese Navy was the supreme fighting force in the Pacific for much of the war in terms of battleships. With the giants like the Yamato and the Musashi, they seemed invincible. Both the Yamato and Musashi had 18" guns which could hit targets over the horizon. However, the Yamato was sunk after an aerial attack, just as Yamamoto predicted, and the Musashi went down the same way, except without a massive explosion. In fact, the Musashi never fired a single shot against an enemy warship. Here is an alternative scenario:

1. What if Battleship No.1 (the Yamato) and Battleship No. 2 (the Musashi) are scrapped? The 64.9 million yen from just 1 of the battleships could be used to focus the Japanese Navy on aerial power. Carriers and Zeroes could be made to support the still-strong surface navy.


Then it is likely that the Ibuki (repeat improved Mogami class) and several more cruisers like her would be completed instead. Two were on the ways but not cancelled. The remaining Oyodo light cruisers likewise (additional 3 or 4) likely would also have been completed rather than cancelled.
In carriers some of the Unryu class might have completed a year earlier or so as well. But, cancellation of the two battleships wouldn't have freed up alot of yard space for other construction.
In the aircraft department this would make essentially zero difference. Japan was limited by production capacity for aircraft. There simply isn't any capacity to expand production. This includes engines, armament, airframes and, other components. If anything the biggest bottleneck in the aircraft industry was engines. By 1944 the IJA had literally hundreds of Ki 61 airframes awaiting license DB601A engines. These ended up being converted to the radial engined Ki 100 out of desperation.
Then there is the problem of pilots. This requires the IJN to greatly increase a program they are not likely to do so to in peacetime. It also does nothing for the IJA whatsoever.

2. The Japanese have several new aircraft carriers with their Combined Fleet. It is time for the attack on Midway. Instead of leaving the air defenses and other crucial objectives relatively untouched, Midway is pounded. The surrounding area is also searched more thoroughly with the incoming planes and carriers in this scenario. The American carriers off Point Luck are spotted and forced to retreat. An invasion fleet is sent in to capture Midway. With the Americans and British pinned down by the relentless air attack, the Japanese capture Midway. The Japanese can now strike at Pearl Harbor even without carriers.


Cancelling the two battleships does not equate into instant production of other ships. Japan would likely still have gone to war with just the ships they originally did. It would be well into 1942 or even 1943 before any new significant carrier production would join the fleet.

3. With the threat in the East finished, the Japanese turn their attention to island-hopping their way to Australia.


There is a long discussion on this board about Australia and a possible Japanese invasion. They might invade but in the long run they lose.

Therefore, with Hawaii under seige and the Japanese beginning their march down the islands, I would predict a temporary Japanese victory. America would sue for peace possibly giving up many claims in the Pacific, and the British and Australian lands would be annexed. However, it is Russia's turn. Seeing that the Japanese have nowhere else to turn but North, Russia reinforces its borders. Now Japan could either attack north which could cost hundreds of thousands of men they probably could not afford and gain little, or reinforce its claims in the Pacific and settle down out of the war.


Hawaii could not have been "besiegned" by the Japanese. They lack the logistical train to support continious operations that far from their bases. The US would have simply devoted more resources to the Pacific War to counter an improved Japanese strategy. After Pearl Harbor the US was not about to settle for a negotiated peace with Japan.
As for Russia, that would have been disasterous for the Japanese. Their Manchuko army and their army in China is a fraction of the size of the Soviet forces even at their weakest point in WW 2.
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#14 seanclem

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 07:18 PM

Found a great dvd on the Battleship Yamato and at a great price too, had been looking for this in an English dialogue ever since a German mate of mine had spoken to me about it. Simply called Battleship YAMATO - Japans Secret Fleet found it on Amazon but then found it on just one DVD site at DVDSource.co.uk for a couple of quid cheaper. What impressed me was the bonus features, so all in all a must for those who wish to have an insight backed up with original footage.




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