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What IF: The Dec.7'41 Pearl Harbor Attacks Included a Blockship ?

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by dabrob, Jul 31, 2009.

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  1. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Might I point out to you that the USS Nevada had NOT dropped either it's original compliment of anchors nor two extra ones that my original ATL scenario posting added to the Tatuta Maru as she was being modified into a blockship. Neither did the USS Nevada have her bottoms blown out by carefully considered and placed demolition charges designed to send her quickly down the only 12' between her bottoms and that channel base coral.

    If you were to conduct a bit of research you would find that the guns carried by the Antares and the two minesweeepers (Condor and Crossbill ?) were but tiny popguns when compared to a 17,000 ton cargo-liner fitted with some 6" guns of her own. Neither were any of the minesweeers actually tugboats fitted with engines powerfull enough to push a resisting 17,000 ton opponent anywhere.

    My ATL Tatuta Maru would only be at any risk of being knocked out of her proper blocking position if a US battleship should ram her on it's way out of the harbor, before she was properly settled the 12' down. Not a likely event on a peacetime Sunday morning according to Japan's Honolulu Consulate ship movement reports to Tokyo. Even if such were to happen, the combination of Kido Butai warplane inflicted damages and IJN minisub torpedos might succeed in sinking the battleship in the entrance channel anyway.



    AFAIK only 1 minisub had a faulty gyro-compass and although the crew tried hard, didn't get into Pearl Harbor because of it.

    All 5 of my ATL minisubs would not have to thread the PH entrance channel IN THE DARK for one thing. They would be tracking the American gateguard DD on it's well known regular "patrol box", in daylight. Much easier.[/QUOTE]

    Sailing in daylight or darkness wouldn't matter. The submarines still got lost in transit. Only one of those submarines were found to have fired any torpedoes. The remainder still had them aboard when they were finally found, days, months or years later. It doesn't matter if you are talking ATL or OTL here, those same midget subs will still get lost, either one way or another and you'll have two or less of them off the harbor mouth and if they are raising their periscopes to line up for a torpedo shot, or just to get their bearings, they will most likely broach, which will plainly be seen either by the lookouts or the crewmen of the Ward.

    If the maru unmasks her 6" guns and fires at the oncoming US ships, the Army forts will return fire with their ready service ammunition. Put a few rounds into the bridge or boiler room and the unarmored maru's speed quickly becomes zero, or it runs aground well short of the harbor mouth.
     
  2. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    What you have failed to grasp again is that in order for your plan to work you have to change the Historical Time Line.

    The Ward sighted and sunk the Midget Sub at 0645 an hour and 10 minutes prior to the attack. If a US ship is fired upon 70 minutes is more than adequate mount a defense.

    ( Pearl Harbor Attack: USS Ward (DD-139) Action Report )

    Your scenario is contingent upon too many "What If's ?" You can not alter the Historical Time Line as much as you have.

    You wrap historical fact with your theory and expect reactions to be the same.

    So here are my questions for you:

    When does your blocking ship leave Japan? Heading, Course and speed?
    When does it rendezvous with the KB task force?
    When and where do the Subs launch from?
    Do the midget subs have the fuel to preform their mission?
     
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  3. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    And you seem to come from the "BECAUSE I SAY SO School of History." You are planning on everything going on schedule, as planned without any possible screwups. Battles just don't go that way, because there are far too many hidden variables involved. The midget submarine that made it into Pearl Harbor could not hit anything, given the occasion that one of them actually fired on the USS Lousville that was trying to get to sea, while manuevering at slow harbor speeds. How are they supposed to hit the Ward that is manuevering in the channel?

    Badly fused AA ammunition or not, the maru is not armored, so the 3" shells fired from the forts, tugs, minesweeper and support ships will play hell with her engine room and bridge. One boiler casualty would bring her to a screeching halt, especially if the Ward avoids those four torpedoes haphazardly fired at her. If the maru unmasks her guns, then the Ward will soon be returning fire from her four 4" guns, single 3"-75mm gun, plus torpedoes.

    Lastly, the American defenders in PH didn't need 9-12 minutes to begin reacting to the Japanese attack. They were returning fire within seconds of the first Japanese bomb impact. The Nevada managed to shoot a torpedo plane out of the air before it could make its drop on them. The Japanese themselves were shocked and surprised at how quickly the American recovered from their initial surprise and began putting up a steel curtain of flak gun fire over the harbor.
     
  4. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    For another glaring example of the lack of expertise of the Japanese midget submarine service, read about the Battle of Sydney Harbor. Several subs were sent against the Allied shipping anchored there. In the single successful torpedo attack made, a midget sub fired on the Heavy Cruiser USS Chicago and instead sank an auxiliary ship moored nearby.
     
  5. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    Sigh.

    Yet another poster who has yet to read my "what IF" proposal.

    That was established some 38 postings ago.

    Yeah, I think that 5 of them would be.

    All points already covered in earlier postings here.

    Sometimes, things just don't go well at all. But I look at it this way, a 40% failure rate still leaves 60% of the ammunition still to be fired, doesn't it.

    So ?

    That display of nested quotes was quite artistic.

    I'm sorry that you took my words as being a maligning comment. Such was not my intention at all. You appreared to genuinely NOT know that Yoshikawa was historically reporting USN ship movements within Pearl Harbor to Tokyo as late as Dec.6'41. I didn't read it as your opinion but rather as a lack of knowledge that Prange details clearly in his tome, "At Dawn We Slept". Hence, I recommended it to you.

    Such is your opinion ?

    Something about nearly simultaneous OTL attacks being planned for Kota Bharu and the Phillipines, if I recall correctly.

    I disagree but thank you for your opinion.
     
  6. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    Really ? 'Tis fascinating. Pray continue.

    You do realize that only 4 of the 5 have actually been found, don't you ? The latest, the one sunk by the USS Ward, in 2002.

    I disagree.

    Uhm, what oncoming US ships ? Save for the USS Helm, there weren't any anywhere nearby at the time.

    Sigh.

    Diffficult to do when you don't yet have trained CAC gunners in their seats.

    I would also point out that with a draft of 28', the Tatuta Maru's engine rooms etc are going to be well below the water line and thus difficult to hit with close range flat tradjectory coastal defense gunfire.

    I know that you haven't actually yet read it yet but my opening post that proposes this entire blockship scenario does already mention the preparation of an auxilliary steering position on the Tatuta Maru to counter exactly this tactic.
     
  7. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    Once agian you mystify me with this comment. How can there BE a "what IF' unless the timeline is changed ?

    Except that I propose torpedoing the USS Ward at 0730, just 25 minutes before the OTL Kido Butai air raid #1 comes in. Not 70 minutes before.

    Which you would know if you had read my thread opening posting.

    Says who ?

    Since there are 40 or so postings listed here, it seems a workable concept, wouldn't you agree ?

    Since I've just had some pickled herring for dinner, I await your questions with baited breathe.

    Please see my posting #1.

    Please see the OTL history.

    As previously sourced at combinedfleet.com the IJN minisubs could cover 84 nautical miles at 6 knots on heir battery power. Much less at their maximum submerged speed of 19 knots.
     
  8. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Y'all are going in circles. I have seen the same questions here over and over again. Either move forward with this or I shall close it.
     
  9. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    You are not getting the point. IN order for the midget subs to be in position to engage the Ward they would have had to either launch later or loiter outside the harbor during daylight.

    For Historical Time Line Attack there were ships moving, in the Harbor, within 20 minutes of the first bomb falling. Why would it take longer to get ships fired up and to work if a ship, the Ward, had just been sunk at the Harbor entrance? There is also the USS Helm that was patrolling in the area as well.

    You have to respect the original timeline. Even in the darkness the "sleepy peacetime sailors" reported seeing the subs within a couple of hours of them being launched.
    ( Japanese Submarines )

    I can only imagine how quickly they would have been spotted if several were stalking the Ward at 0730 when you propse they begin their attack.

    Here are the times for sunrise and nautical twilight.

    490 PEARL HARBOR ATTACK

    1941, was 6:26 a. m., and morning twilight was at 5:06 a. m., both
    Hawaiian time. [4]

    ( GEOGRAPHICAL CONSIDERATIONS AND NAVY AND ARMY INSTALLATIONS )

    And the Ward was already at General Quarters at 0730 on 7 Dec. 1941

    ( WARD'S ATTACK ON MIDGET SUB )

    So it is safe to say that the crew of the Ward was anything but awake during the time of your proposed
    attack and would have been able to spot a midget sub.

    I believe they have all been located and are currently on display throughout the US and Japan.

    ( http://www.combinedfleet.com/Pearl.htm )


    Your thesis does not pass scrutiny. You have to alter too much of the original timeline for your plan to be feasible.
     
  10. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    This is a commercial freighter (I assume you mean the Tatsuwa Maru of 6345 grt.) of conventional design with 7 holds. The ship has a minimum of watertight bulkheads and is single hulled. A few near misses or shell hits at or below the waterline will be sufficent to cripple such a ship with flooding. A single 5" hole at the waterline will initially allow tons a minute of flooding that will increase rapidly as the ship settles. As few as 2 or 3 holds flooding would be sufficent to bring the ship to a halt and cause her to sink.
    Maneuvers by the ship to try to avoid more damage would only increase the effects of flooding through free surface effect.
    Freighers are not warships and cannot take the kind of damage that a warship can. The Tatsuwa Maru would be going down in sort order.
     
  11. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    That would probably be because the heavy cruiser USS Louisville was actually in the Solomon Islands area on Dec.7'41.

    I believe that you refer to the USS St. Louis which historically roared down the PH entrance channel (speed limit 8 knots) at 22 knots. When it was observed that 2 torpedos had been fired at her, she increased speed to 25 knots. It was noted that had the first torpedo not hit an undredged coral head at the side of that channel (and thus detonated the second torpedo as well) then both would have hit that light cruiser, which was drenched with water from the blasts. While not hits, they were certainly as close to hits as was posible without hitting. Simple bad luck, not a lack of training or skill in firing torpedos.

    10 were available, not just 4.

    I don't see the two events as being at all related.

    My Tatuta Maru blockship will not begin to rush the PH entrance channel until the USS Ward is torpedoed. Neither will she unmask her hidden deck guns until the potentially deadly torpedo tubes of the Ward are dealt with. Such would be suicidal to her blockship mission.

    Last time I checked, blockships didn't float over harbors where AA flak might hit them.

    it seems that you confuse the location of the attacks on the Ward and my ATL blockship's run in with the loations of those USN warships within Pearl Harbor itself. The PH entrance channel was some 3,400 yards in length and the pacific Fleet was scattered around Pearl Harbor, even further away than the end of the channel.

    Please have a look at the PH map to be found at
    http://www.navsource.org/Naval/helpers/pearlmap.jpg while you consider the mostly blocked sight/firing lines that you claim would be effective
     
  12. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    Sigh.

    I'm glad that your American defenders would be firing so quickly and accurately at the 6,345 ton Tatsuwa Maru since that would allow my 17,000 ton ATL cargo-liner, the Tatuta Maru to fulfill her blockship mission unmolested.

    How many times have I typed the name of my ATL blockship and still you cannot read it ? I can only conclude that your "errors" are deliberate attempts to mislead the other readers here.

    No other explanation makes any sense at all.
     
  13. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Same difference. The Ward proved more than capable of using its WW 1 vintage 5"/51 guns on a midget sub and sinking it. I doubt a liner, cargo ship, whatever would fare much better. A few hits at or just below the waterline would finish her.

    But, let's make this interesting. The USN not being completely stupid, the captain of the Antares which is towing a barge and ahead of your block ship and just entering the harbor turns and "runs interference" to prevent the Japanese ship from entering the channel. Meanwhile the Ward plasters her with shell fire setting her ablaze and sinking. That is a much more likely outcome.
    In the meantime, this clear attempt by a Japanese flag vessel to enter the harbor against instructions has brought the fleet to general quarters a few minutes early so the ships are now loaded for bear when the first Japanese planes arrive. Suprise is lost and the Kido Butai takes an early beating.
     
  14. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    So ? It's not exactly shallow water where the Ward's patrol box was located.

    Japanese bombs falling IN THE HARBOR resulted in US ships moving IN THE HARBOR some 20 minutes later. Historically the Ward's attack on a minisub with guns and depth charges at 0645, some 3 miles OUTSIDE of Pearl Harbor didn't result in ANY ships moving in Pearl Harbor at all, nor in any alarm being circulated there either. It seems obvious that explosions INSIDE Pearl Harbor on Dec.7'41 had a more ALARMING effect than explosions happening well OUTSIDE of Pearl Harbor on Dec.7'41.

    In my ATL blockship scenario, the Ward would be torpedoed well OUTSIDE of Pearl Harbor and thus wuld be much less likely to cause any effective alarm inside of Pearl Harbor. Even more so when one considers the radio jamming and that my ATL attack on the Ward would happen only about 20 minutes prior to the start of the Kido Butai's air attacks on the Pacific Fleet. NOT some 70 minutes as was the OTL Ward's minisub attack situation

    But she was NOT in the area. She was in the WEST LOCH area INSIDE of Pearl Harbor when the OTL air attacks began at 0755, some 10 minutes AFTER my Tatuta Maru is scheduled to scuttle herself in that channel.

    Says only you.

    I continue to disagree.

    Only because in the OTL, the minisubs were ordered to try to follow USN shipping into Pearl Harbor thru the (usually closed at night) twin anti-torpedo netting. This meant that they had to follow that shipping so closely that they could be seen.

    In my ATL scenario there would be no such need to follow USN shipping so closely at all.

    Since the Ward was following a predictable 2 mile by 2 mile "patrol box" pattern, my ATL minisubs would not have to stalk her at all. All they would have to do would be ao approach her "partol box" sides and wait until she sailed right by. With a 19 knot underwater maximum speed, any of the minisubs could move faster than the Ward's standard 15 knot patrol speed if any last minute maneuvers were needed. They could also use that speed to aproach as the Ward slowed in preparation for her Honolulu Harbor pilot transfer. What could be easier.

    Only because she had just attacked and sunk a minisub at 0645 in the OTL. Not an event that would have happened in my ATL scenario. So, no GQ for the USS Ward in my ATL scenario.

    Yes, I would agree with that.

    Anything but awake describes the still peacetime situation very well.

    I would disagree with that statement. With an approaching 17,000 ton cargo-liner as a distraction, I'd doubt that many of Ward's lookouts would be doing a good job at anti-minisub periscope watch.

    ( http://www.combinedfleet.com/Pearl.htm )

    I direct your attention to the underlined portion of the quote below which comes from your own source displayed immediately above:

    "Whether or not the three sections of this mystery Type A midget submarine comprise the missing fifth midget submarine used in the Attack on Pearl Harbor remains an open question. More research is needed, paricularly to determine if any postwar USN records still exist concerning the disposal of war materials in the Defensive Sea Area.

    Says only you.

    I continue to disagree.
     
  15. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Yeah, well disagree all you want; but, you can make any argument once you abandon the Historical Time Line and refuse to listen to common sense.

    The Midget subs entered the harbor to try and destroy shipping and they failed.
    No ships were sunk in the shipping channel.
    Two Midget subs were sunk before they even reached the harbor and the others were destroyed within moments of being spotted.
    Only two midget subs released torpedos.

    The Midget subs failed and they were only able to reach the harbor under the cover of darkness.

    It is very easy to make a complicated Alternative History and when your thesis is called into question all you have do is say: "That doesn't occur in my "ATL" "

    Your thesis is unreasonable and you deviate too far from the Historic Time Line to make your argument even close to plausible or to even cause a moment of serious consideration.

    Once again you have wasted band width.
     
  16. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    Not at all. A 17,000 ton vesel behaves much differently than does a 6,400 ton freighter.

    I believe that the Ward's armament on that morning was in fact 4 x 4 in (102 mm)/50 cal, 2 x 3 in (76.2 mm)/50 cal, 4 x 3 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes.

    As far as the gun hits go, Ward won't be likely to be shooting at anything after she eats one or two minisub torpedos.

    You forget that the mission of the TM blockship was to sink in the entrance channel. Thanks for the helping hand.

    Burlingame's "Advance Force: Pearl Harbor" reports on page 167 that the Antares was equipped with a single 3' gun and no ammunuition for it on Dec.7'41. How typical.

    It must be said though that this book provides a wealth of detailed tactical information that I have not found anywhere else.

    Also reported there, on page #209 is that the USS Antares never did enter Pearl Harbor that day, having been warned off least she become a blockship in the entrance channel herself. She finally tied up inside Honolulu Harbor at 1146. i have yet to find out what happened to her towed barge during the attacks. The information search goes on ...

    And no worries about Antares running interference ...

    I see that you forget about my ATL radio jamming. How is this early warning to get through ?

    If such is really your opinion, then you are very welcome to it.

    I disagree.
     
  17. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    Whatever.
     
  18. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    That does seem to be your approach to a lot of things
     
  19. dabrob

    dabrob Dishonorably Discharged

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    John,

    Sorry for the delay in responding to this posting of yours. My own library didn't have much on the topic and as it turns out, neither did my local public library so I only have http://www.combinedfleet.com/Tully/sydney42.html and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Sydney_Harbour to go by.

    It does provide some interesting facts however, that I can use to bolster my case ...

    At PH I propose 5 ATL minisubs while the OTL Japanese at Syndney only sent in 3.

    The OTL attack on Sydney was made some 6 months AFTER the start of the Pacific War so there was no strategic surprise factor as there would hae been in my ATL PH blockship scenario.

    At Sydney the Australians had 6 (maybe 8 ?) sets of underwater detection cables strung out over the seabed to warn of the submerged approach of enemy submarines. The Americans at PH had no such early warning system.

    Sydney had a proper (but not yet completed) anti-submartine net AND an anti-torpedo net which were kept closed unless there was authorized ship traffic passing. The OTL PH situation was limited to 2 rusted out 1918 vintage anti-torpedo nets, both too short to hang the full depth of the channel, that were kept WIDE OPEN during daylight hours.

    At Sydney, 1 of the 3 IJN minisubs sent in got caught in that proper anti-submarine net and destroyed itself with it's own demolition charge. A similar event would be unlikely in my ATL blockship scenario since it targets the USS Ward, on patrol some 3 miles outside of the 2 old PH nets, in daytime.

    At Sydney, a 2nd IJN minissub was detected by an indicator cable and was thought successfully depth charged. It turned out to still be active some 4 hours later and was then depth charged again. For the final time. As previously mentioned the American defenders at PH, some 6 months before, had NO such underwater detection cables to aid their ASW efforts. They had to rely instead on sonar systems which were regularly gave false readings because of thermoclines and whales passing by.

    As for the 3rd IJN minisub at Sydney I present the following quote:

    "At 11.30, three-and-a-half hours after the overlooked Midget No 14 signal on the loop, the depot ship Kuttabul, a converted harbour ferry, was blown up by "one of two torpedoes which, fired at Chicago by Midget A from the direction of Bradley's Head, passed under the Dutch submarine K9, and struck the harbour bed beneath Kuttabul, where it exploded''. Eighteen to twenty men were killed with one listed missing feared dead on the Kuttabul which was being used as an accommodation vessel, amid varying reports of the number who were on board."

    While a torpedo hit on the USS Chicago or the Dutch submarine K9 would have been prefered, that minisub's one hit must still be recorded as a 50% success rate against an enemy vessel with enemy casualties caused.

    Because of their dismal torpedos there was many an early war American submarine that did NOT achieve a 50% hit rate and indeed, at least one sank itself.

    I think your criticism of the OTL record of the IJN minisubs to be unfounded.

    My source also points out that:

    "On May 30, three Japanese midget subs attacked Diego Suarez in Madagascar, damaging the British battleship Ramillies and sinking the tanker British Loyalty, a day after the warship had been circled by an enemy reconnaissance plane."

    and I note that you have not presented that information to the readers here in an attempt to provide an unbiased point of view on the truth.

    It seems that only 2 IJN minisubs were sent into that British base but they managed to sink a motor tanker and damage the British battleship Ramilies.

    Why didn't you bother to mention those minisub successes to our readers here ?
     
  20. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    I just re-read Captain Outerbridge's account of the USS Ward's attack on the midget sub and he states that he was cruising at 5 knots when the midget sub was sighted, so therefore, his sonar would be free of water noise clutter and he would hear the two oncoming midget submarines seeking to attack it within his patrol box. It still doesn't matter if it's OTL OR ATL, three of those midget submarines didn't make it into the area around PH for one reason or another.
     
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