Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

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Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby minoru genda » Sat Oct 18, 2008 12:54 am

From the Wikipedia:

Possible third wave
Several Japanese junior officers, including Fuchida and Genda, the chief architect of the attack, urged Nagumo to carry out a third strike in order to destroy as much of Pearl Harbor's fuel storage, maintenance, and dry dock facilities as possible. Military historians have suggested the destruction of these facilities would have crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet far more seriously than the loss of its battleships. If they had been wiped out, "serious [American] operations in the Pacific would have been postponed for more than a year." Nagumo, however, decided to withdraw for several reasons:

American anti-aircraft performance had improved considerably during the second strike, and two thirds of Japan's losses were incurred during the second wave. Nagumo felt if he launched a third strike, he would be risking three quarters of the Combined Fleet's strength to wipe out the remaining targets (which included the facilities) while suffering higher aircraft losses.
The location of the American carriers remained unknown. In addition, the admiral was concerned his force was now within range of American land-based bombers. Nagumo was uncertain whether the U.S. had enough surviving planes remaining on Hawaii to launch an attack against his carriers.
A third wave would have required substantial preparation and turnaround time, and would have meant returning planes would have had to land at night. At the time, no navy had developed night carrier techniques, so this was a substantial risk.
The task force's fuel situation did not permit him to remain in waters north of Pearl Harbor much longer, since he was at the very limits of logistical support. To do so risked running unacceptably low on fuel, perhaps even having to abandon destroyers en route home.
He believed the second strike had essentially satisfied the main objective of his mission — the neutralization of the Pacific Fleet — and did not wish to risk further losses.

At a conference aboard Yamato the following morning, Yamamoto initially supported Nagumo. In retrospect, however, sparing the vital dockyards, maintenance shops, and oil depots meant the U.S. could respond relatively quickly to Japanese activities in the Pacific. Yamamoto later regretted Nagumo's decision to withdraw and categorically stated it had been a great mistake not to order a third strike.

If Nagumo had launched the third wave and destroyed the rest of warships and facilities in Pearl how you think this affects the us navy operations in 1942? :?:
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby lwd » Sat Oct 18, 2008 3:22 am

minoru genda wrote: ...If Nagumo had launched the third wave and destroyed the rest of warships and facilities in Pearl how you think this affects the us navy operations in 1942? :?:


If he can do the impossible then who's to say. The above is impossible.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby Tiornu » Sat Oct 18, 2008 4:34 am

The legendary argument with Nagumo is nothing but a legend. Fuchida made up the story, and Genda specifically refuted it.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby Bgile » Sat Oct 18, 2008 5:07 am

I think when you consider the amount of effort the RAF put into wrecking the repair facilites for the German ships based in France and even then weren't able to destroye the Normandie drydock until they launched a special attack with a destroyer loaded with explosives ramming it ... I really don't think the Japanese were likely to destroy all the Pearl Harbor facilities in one more wave.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby RF » Sat Oct 18, 2008 9:24 am

Alter the question slightly: what if the Japanese had used all eight of their front-line carriers instead of six?

It is a historical fact on record that a third wave was being prepared when Nagumo gave the order to withdraw. If a third wave had concentrated on the oil tanks and then the docks and submarine base, who knows? With defences already degraded it would have been an easier task than the British attacks against the Germans, who had massively beefed up their defences.

And if the US carriers were also caught at Pearl Harbor......
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby lwd » Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:29 pm

Actually the defenses would arguably have been stronger if a third wave had gone in. There's also the question of whether it could even have been recovered or launched for that matter at least on the 7th. Your proposed targeting priorities also invert the actual Japanese ones.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby minoru genda » Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:35 pm

lwd wrote:
minoru genda wrote: ...If Nagumo had launched the third wave and destroyed the rest of warships and facilities in Pearl how you think this affects the us navy operations in 1942? :?:

If he can do the impossible then who's to say. The above is impossible.

What exactly is impossible?
launch the third wave, destroy the rest of ships, the base facilities....
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby lwd » Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:45 pm

Launching a third wave was possible although it might not have been possible to launch a well organized wave of the same size as the first 2 on the 7th and recovering it would have been problematic.

Even destroying all the remaining warships was probably well beyond what a third wave could have accomplished. As for the facilities I've worked through the numbers a bit and came to the conclusion that a third wave would have had a difficult if not impossible time taking out all the fuel tanks much less the rest of the facilities.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby minoru genda » Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:59 pm

Maybe you are right there were still lot of targets in Pearl for the third wave. Let's say they further damage a few battleships beyond repair, half a dozen smaller warships, and a couple of fuel tanks, docks.
... why do you think recovery of the japanese planes would be problematic? the third wave would take off only 4 hours after the first.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby RNfanDan » Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:24 pm

Pearl Harbor's facilities were in no way comparable to the hardened facilities and submarine pens in occupied France. The island's oil farms, shops, and warehouses were completely vulnerable, once reached--and there was pathetically little to stop them on December 7. It would have taken time to rebuild these destroyed facilities, repair and reconstruct oil and aviation storage, and replace lost stores of petroleum. Hawaii has few natural resources and everything must be brought in by sea. However, I believe it would not have affected to any great extent, the battles at Coral Sea and Midway--should they have happened.

I have read numerous opinions that Yorktown could not have been turned-around in time to participate at Midway, had the Japanese destroyed the shops and warehouses at Pearl. I disagree for many reasons, and five months' time between the attack and the major Pacific operations seems more than ample to reestablish minimum operational support for what remained of the fleet. Hawaii was not lacking large numbers of determined and capable personnel for very long, and the by-product of that situation was demonstrated in the amazing work done to get the ship combat-capable in less than three days.

I am not at all certain how further Japanese destruction of the base infrastructure might have affected the refloating of the sunken battleships and the repair/reconstruction of others, but their presence was largely irrelevant until much later in the war, anyway. By simply rotating full tankers into the harbor as a stop-gap until the tank farms could be rebuilt, would have allowed much of the fleet to continue as a fighting force.

My opinion, FWIW (if anything)...

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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby lwd » Sat Oct 18, 2008 3:19 pm

minoru genda wrote:Maybe you are right there were still lot of targets in Pearl for the third wave. Let's say they further damage a few battleships beyond repair, half a dozen smaller warships, and a couple of fuel tanks, docks.

Because of the smoke from the fires and the fact that the defenses would have been fully alert the battleships would have been much tougher targets. I'm pretty sure that they were out of the special bombs and torpedoes as well. Net result is that they might add some additional damage to the BBs but are unlikely to put any more out of the war permanently. The probably would be able to damage some other warships. Docks are difficult targets and easy to repair. A couple of fuel tanks are going to have much long term effect.
... why do you think recovery of the japanese planes would be problematic? the third wave would take off only 4 hours after the first.

They would have been lucky to get the third wave off 8 hours after the first. Look at the timing:
From: http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/t ... /pearl.htm
At 6 a.m., the first attack wave of 183 Japanese planes takes off from the carriers ...
At 7:15 a.m., a second attack wave of 167 planes takes off from the Japanese carriers ...
At 7:53 a.m., the first Japanese assault wave, ... commences the attack with flight commander,...
The air raid lasts until 9:45 a.m...

Based on the above the second wave would not have been recovered until 1200 at the earliest. I'm pretty sure it was almost 1300 before they were recovered due in part to deteriorating weather conditions. Now they have to figure out which planes and pilots are flying (at least one site mentions over 100 were damaged), strike the incoming planes and spot the third wave.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby lwd » Sat Oct 18, 2008 3:24 pm

RNfanDan wrote:Pearl Harbor's facilities were in no way comparable to the hardened facilities and submarine pens in occupied France.

But were these hardened in 40 and 41? The RAF didn't manage to take out the twins after they moved to France although they damaged them a number of times.
The island's oil farms, shops, and warehouses were completely vulnerable, once reached--and there was pathetically little to stop them on December 7. ..

There weren't completely vulnerable. By the time the third wave could have gotten there the air defenses would have been manned and the oil tanks had berms surrounding them.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby Tiornu » Sat Oct 18, 2008 5:23 pm

It is necessary to review the actual facilities that existed before claiming they could be destroyed by a few dozen light bombers. This is why some people get so angry with Fuchida. As far as I can tell, he was a really nice guy, so nice that he gladly told people what they wanted to hear. The Americans expected an aircraft carrier to have its flight deck full of planes being serviced between strikes, so Fuchida told them the IJN carriers at Midway had their flight decks full of planes being serviced; even today, lots of people think that was the case. The Americans expected a quick turn-around of planes in case of a third strike being ordered, so Fuchida told them this story. Could Nagumo have ordered a third strike? Of course. Could it have been launched on Dec 7? I don't know.
Nagumo had achieved his objective while sustaining losses far less than anyone hoped. He had the option of exposing his prize assets for the sake of hitting relatively unimportant targets (yes, that's what I said), so I don't fault him for his opting against it. That doesn't mean it was the best decision, but when the law of diminishing returns dictates you won't accomplish as much and the increased target readiness means you'll suffer increasing losses (not to mention simple operational losses from airmen forced to fly double-duty), I think we should look at blaming the orders Nagumo received rather than knee-jerk blaming him.
Everyone who's certain there was time for another strike on Dec 7, make sure you've read Shattered Sword.
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby dunmunro » Sun Oct 19, 2008 7:55 am

Ok, but what if Nagumo decided to launch a 3rd strike, even if it meant hanging around for another day. What could the USN/USAAF have done about it?
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Re: Pearl Harbor: Possible third wave

Postby minoru genda » Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:33 pm

OK if there was not enough time to launch the third wave on December 7, lets say they hang around for another day as "dunmunro" wrote and attack early on December 8. There would be no surprise this time but the US army and navy had only a handful of planes left. The Enterprise (with some lost and damaged planes) was in Pearl area on December 8 too and maybe could be discovered and attacked by the japanese. "RNfanDan" says that additional damage in Pearl wouldn't affect Coral Sea and Midway operations at all but what if the usn lost the Enterprise? :?:
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