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Japan saved American lives when they attacked Pearl Harbor


poppy

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The ships of the American Navy which were attacked in Pearl Harbor were for the most part obsolete and had they met the Japanese at ,say, the nite battles of the Solomans then the US would have lost these ships without the hope of refloating them and many times the 3000 men lost at Pearl Harbor. poppys

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While the premise may be both extremely provocative and deeply disturbing, in a sense, poppys is correct, though not at the Japanese intent level.

The Japanese not only knew that a carrier strike on Pearl Harbor was possible, having watched the U.S. do it in wargames during the late Twenties or early Thirties, but had also carefully studied what the British did to the Italians at Taranto, a notably shallow anchorage like Pearl Harbor, and fitted their own aerial torpedoes (NOT in this case an expression meaning "bombs") with auxiliary wooden vanes intended to keep the torpedoes from going in too steeply and hitting the harbor floor. They also addressed their lack of proper armor piercing bombs, converting 14" naval shells to bombs by fitting them with fins and tail fuzes. The upshot of this, according to the standard canon (for contrarian view, see Stinnett's DAY OF DECEIT), was the near annihilation of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, leading to a series of crushing defeats by remaining surface units and a dangerously critical carrier dependency made worse by Japan's initial carrier superiority, superb training and equipment for night combat, and the clear superiority of Japanese air power over what the Allies had following the main Japanese attacks.

By rational expectations, most of the warships sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack should never have sailed, let alone fought again, but all but a few did. That they did and how they got back into the war is a saga of incredible courage, tenacity, ingenuity and sheer outrage driven utter determination. Where poppys is right, though, is that had the attack taken place in deep water, without proper air cover, those same ships would've probably gone down with almost everyone still aboard. Take a look at what happened when the Japanese sank the Prince of Wales and the Repulse

to begin to grok what poppys is trying to say. And that was from two battleships sinking, not an entire flotilla!

In closing, I'd like to add that during my college days, I got to participate in an intercampus wargame in which my school played Japan's role. We Japanese caught the American fleet at sea after it sortied from Pearl Harbor and sank nearly all of it

in deep water, never to be seen again. The extent of the loss was so stunning that it paralyzed the U.S. players--until our massed carrier based strikes started ripping the Pacific coast from Washington state down to the Canal Zone, precisely the panicked rumor which haunted the land after the historical Pearl Harbor attack.

Why this is here rather than in the General Discussion Forum I know not, but it certainly is an interesting topic.

Regards,

John Kettler

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The main thesis of this thread is as valid a consideration as the idea that Ted Bundy saved American lives because he prevented any of his victims from having children who would have eventually died.

In other words, it is emptyheaded, provocative bull feces, and almost Fionn-like in its utter tastelessness given the proximity to the very anniversary of the event.

-dale

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quote[ In other words, it is emptyheaded, provocative bull feces, and almost Fionn-like in its utter tastelessness given the proximity to the very anniversary of the event.]

Hello dalem, does this mean that its also tasteless to post about or play scenarios this month about the Bulge, or in June to play or post about the Normandy landings. Every battle ever fought has an anniversary date. If this battle effects you differently than any other battle then Im sorry that you read my post. poppys

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Hello Kingfish, Your probably correct. I wanted to attract attention to this subject and most of the attention has been positive. I didnt realize that there were people in this forum that would be more sensitive over a Pacific war battle vs a European or Africa battle. It would, I believe ,be an interesting study. Our Navy was fortunate in that the Japanese did not make their location known and draw out our fleet with,how many saliors, 20000 or so and our carriers,which at the time were not equipted nor trained to engage the Japanese pilots or planes, and could have well been lost with all hands.poppys

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What if... :rolleyes:

I venture to suggest that had the pacific battle fleet not been destroyed and/or incapacitated in Pearl Harbor, the japanese government would most likely have assumed an entirely different stance, therefore making the subsequent occurence of any naval engagement in the area quite a remote contingency.

My point is, you simply cannot change (let alone remove it altogether) the outcome history and assume anything about following events.

My two cents

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Originally posted by poppys:

quote[ In other words, it is emptyheaded, provocative bull feces, and almost Fionn-like in its utter tastelessness given the proximity to the very anniversary of the event.]

Hello dalem, does this mean that its also tasteless to post about or play scenarios this month about the Bulge, or in June to play or post about the Normandy landings. Every battle ever fought has an anniversary date. If this battle effects you differently than any other battle then Im sorry that you read my post. poppys

Poppys-

My statement is simple : Your logic is flawed and your timing is poor.

-dale

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Hello Tarkus, No change is meant. The Japanese destroyed mostley obsolete ships at Pearl and by a stroke of luck for the US did not destroy the US Carriers that were in the area at that time. And of more importance they did not kill the vast bulk of trained sailors who were able to go on and man the new ships that were constructed and by that time the US had learned something about how to combat the Japanese carrier pilots and the Japanese fleet without exposing their main elements.

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Hello again Tarkus, Remember, the Japanese also attacked the Phillipines at the same time so the US was at war with Japan even if the Pearl attack had not occured. But the Pearl Harbor attack prevented the US Navy from attacking the Japanese with a fleet that was no match for the Japanese either in equipment or training. It took a year or so for the US Naval command to realize that it needed to fight a different type of war than it was trained to fight and then to prepare for that war. poppys

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Mmmm. I am not sure to follow your reasonning on this.

Pearl Harbor was an integral part of a grand strategy, the main goal of which was to tilt the balance of power in the Pacific in such an overwhelming way as to force the US to ask for peace on Japanese terms.

Yamamoto, who planned the Pearl Harbor raid, threatened to resign if the raid wasn't carried out, on the ground that only by annihilating the US fleet could Japan hope for enough time to both extend its sphere of influence while preparing for the inevitable blow the US would throw back at them. It follows that one can reasonnably conclude that the japanese aggression was conditional to Pearl Harbor. But then again, what if Yamamoto did not get his way and resigned ? What would have happened at Midway ? Would its successor modify the original plan ? Would have Nagumo decided to launch yet another wave, or perhaps search for the american carriers ? No one knows, of course.

All this to say that I firmly hold to my point: you cannot draw conclusion on history on the ground of contingencies.

Cheers

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Originally posted by Tarkus:

I venture to suggest that had the pacific battle fleet not been destroyed and/or incapacitated in Pearl Harbor, the japanese government would most likely have assumed an entirely different stance, therefore making the subsequent occurence of any naval engagement in the area quite a remote contingency.

If I understand what you are saying, I have to disagree. Japan might very well have set the PH operation in motion as in the historical case, but the Kido Butai might have been discovered by a different pattern of air search or any combination of accidents in time to allow the US battle fleet to sortie out of the harbor. If the two navies had then met in battle, the outcome is difficult for us to calculate. Any US ships attacked by air might well have been sunk, but the Japanese would have been attacking an alerted enemy in this case and that complicates matters. At any rate, the Japanese would not have had a free shot at moored ships in harbor.

Very likely after a first round of combat, Nagumo would have run for it, since his carriers weren't carrying enough avgas for extended ops and historically he saved some back in case he ran into the US carriers and got into a fight with them. And since he had a speed advantage, he could easily have broken contact before the US battlewagons got within gun range and vanished into the northern Pacific from which he had come.

But all of that is only an educated guess of course. The point being that Japan could have set in motion the historic attack on PH, but not had so much success with it.

Michael

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Dalem, I apologize for my last post to you, it was very rude. If there is some one or something that you are sensitive about concerning the Pearl Harbor attack then I understand. No disrespect was or is meant to the men and whomen killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. I dont pay any attention to aniversary dates when I am on this forum but as I said, no disrespect was or is meant. poppys

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I, too, wonder if this topic would not be better off in the general forum.

Michael,

I may well have been unclear, and perhaps I misunderstood Poppys' initial statement. I did not meant to draw the debate on Japan strategical and political stance after Pearl Harbor depending on its assessed results, nor on possible variations on its conduct and outcome, which I realize now Poppys' statement is all about. Your own statement is plausible and does not poses the kind of problems I see in Poppys' first post. My point was only that Pearl Harbor was a crucial part of Japan grand strategy in the Pacific and that if one suppose it didn't happen, than all assumptions on following events are not sustainable because of the intricate nature of historic causality. (Some may counter this by stating that this is a belief, but then it becomes an entirely different debate).

I brought it up because of Poppys' initial statement that Pearl Harbor served a subsequent purpose (ie. saving lives) and linked it to future occurences (Solomon battle), basing his reasonning along the assumption that the absence of Pearl Harbour would have lead to an event of even more disastrous proportions (naval battle in open sea with obsolete ships) and then judging its instrumentality out of this assumption. To me, this isn't valid logic.

But then I realize that it can also mean that Pearl Harbor might have gone a different way. If that is what was meant in the first place, I lay all doubt aside and will cheerfully read all supositions while remaining quiet.

Ahem. Ain't sure this qualify as a clarification, but still...

Cheers nonetheless.

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Originally posted by poppys:

The ships of the American Navy which were attacked in Pearl Harbor were for the most part obsolete and had they met the Japanese at ,say, the nite battles of the Solomans then the US would have lost these ships without the hope of refloating them and many times the 3000 men lost at Pearl Harbor. poppys

One problem with this thesis is that it overlooks the historical fact that after the old battleships that had been sunk (e.g W. Virginia and California) or damaged (e.g. Maryland, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania) at Pearl were raised from the harbor bottom and were repaired and updated, they gave extensive and extremely valuable service throughout the Pacific campaign. Mostly, these old battleships (whose main limitation was slow speed relative to the new, fast battleships that could operate with the fast carriers, cruisers and destroyers) were used as floating artillery to smash Japanese island defenses. This they did with deadly efficiency.

BUT these same ships also took part in the crushing of the southern wing of the Japanese attack in a night action at Surigao Strait in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. US night naval tactics and radar had much improved by late '44 over the earlier days in the Solomons, but the old Pearl battleships proved themselves quite capable of excellent work in a night naval action at the Battle of Surigao Strait. Among the forces sunk were two Japanese battleships. For more info on this battle, look here. I believe this same fleet would have defeated Kurita's Center Force, including four battleships led by the mighty Yamato, if they had clashed off Samar, which came very near to happening.

BTW, as a note to poppy, it isn't really necessary in my experience to be provocative to get attention on this board. A balanced and reasonable presentation that has in interesting twist is sure to get attention as well, and it will excite a lot less static. One question that remains unanswered is exactly how the US fleet might have operated if the old battleships hadn't been knocked out at Pearl. They were too slow to move with the faster carriers and cruisers, it would seem--there must have been some kind of doctrine for this but I've never seen it spelled out. What the Pearl attack really did was to postpone the repair and use of the old BB's until the new ones could replace them for fleet operations. They could then find their correct role as gun platforms to support amphibious operations. But they could also fight an effective defensive battle against fast battleships when needed, and by 1944 they could beat Japanese BB's at night because of their vastly superior new radars and fire control. ;)

[ December 12, 2004, 08:05 AM: Message edited by: CombinedArms ]

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Hello CombinedArms, Since this is a WW2 forum and we read or post about battles constantly it seems to me to have been a bit of an oportunistic overreaction to the the admittedly provacative title that I chose. Hopefully other peoples posts wont be sudjected to the same judgemental statements that mine was and will be taken in the sense that this forum is all about, and that is to discuss WW2 battles. Now with that over with. My thinking is that the only reason that the older battleships were able to be raised is because they were sunk in Pearl Harbor rather than at sea, where the loss of the battle ship and crew would have been total, especially if the Japanese fleet had beaten the US fleet in battle, which it well could have. The Japanese fleet included five carriers, two battleships and many escorts. This will be a good scenario for the upcomming Modern Sea Battles.

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Originally posted by poppys:

The ships of the American Navy which were attacked in Pearl Harbor were for the most part obsolete and had they met the Japanese at ,say, the nite battles of the Solomans then the US would have lost these ships without the hope of refloating them and many times the 3000 men lost at Pearl Harbor. poppys

This is open to debate, since the US gave as good as it got in the Solomons without the services of these ships. It would make an interesting what-if to have these ships included in the allied OOB. What affect would they have had in the battle for Savo, or the November battles of Guadacanal?
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