Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

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minoru genda
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Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by minoru genda » Fri Nov 28, 2008 7:50 pm

December 1941, the Japanese start the war just as they did historically but Instead of attacking Pearl Harbor they keep the Kido Butai in reserve to intercept the US Navy counter attack to relieve the Philippines. Kimmel sends Enterprise, Lexington, the 8 old battleships, cruisers and destroyers. So there is a big clash with Nagumo's carriers and battleships (including Yamato :cool:). Is this a plausible scenario? What do you think?
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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Habor

Post by Bgile » Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:45 pm

Sounds to me like an extremely stupid thing for the US to do and would result in the loss of most of the US ships to Nagumo's aircraft.

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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:25 pm

I believe Yamato was not ready for Pearl Harbor. I believe that Yamamoto had his flag on Nagato.
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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by minoru genda » Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:07 am

Bgile: What was the US strategy to follow in case of a Japanese attack on the Philippines? I think the pre-war plan was to defend the Philippines. I just don't know how effectively would be done because there were only 3 carriers in the Pacific: Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga (in San Diego). They could of course keep the 8 battleships at Pearl and give up the Philippines but then the result wouldn't be much different than historically. That is why I suggested a big clash of forces in this scenario: maybe like anticipated battle of Leyte in early 1942.

Karl: you are right Yamato hadn't been commissioned yet.
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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:41 am

Yamato was commisioned on December 16th, 1941. Just days after Pearl Harbor.
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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:52 am

December 1941, the Japanese start the war just as they did historically but Instead of attacking Pearl Harbor they keep the Kido Butai in reserve to intercept the US Navy counter attack to relieve the Philippines. Kimmel sends Enterprise, Lexington, the 8 old battleships, cruisers and destroyers. So there is a big clash with Nagumo's carriers and battleships (including Yamato :cool:). Is this a plausible scenario? What do you think?
This would have pleased a lot the Japanese. From the very start of their planning they have been willing to draw the USN to the "decisive battle". It was part of their doctrine and the reason they designed their fleet the way it was. The USN prepared themselves for an atrition campaign, no expecting a decisive battle.

This Japanese notion came directly from their victory over the russians at Tsushima. They expected that the enemy, sooner or later, would attempt to get into a fight for a position they cannot give away (as the Philipines if the fleet wasn´t inmovilized at Pearl) and then they´ll get them

Assuming that the Yamato was ready for a fight on December 16th on and that the Japanese delayed their plans to have it in their fleet for the decisive battle then the scenario you´re proposing could result in a massacre. The USN was not ready to fight Kido Butai, on one hand, and the old BBs could not survive a Yamato leaded batteline. Yamato was designed as the battleship killer of all times, not a convoy escort, not a member of a carrier task force, her sole existence was cleaning the seas of 16", 15" and 14" gunned ships. And Nagato and company were very good ships also.

But we are leaving Kido Butai outside of the scope. Six Japanese fleet carriers with the most experienced pilots and best aircraft (up to that date) against a poorly coordinated (and doctrinal incipient) CV force from USN. Remember that the IJN for that time believed in the massive attack of several carriers, simultaneously. The USN not, they were expecting to fight carrier vs. carrier in single combat. Kido Butai could have destroyed the US CVs and then give a hand to the battleline.

At Philipines, or whatever, the USN could not expect to survive it´s fleet by fighting the precise combat the Japanese wanted. Nope. But it´s likely, I presume, that Kimmel could have done it. Not Nimitz, of course, but Kimmel... I don´t know...
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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by Tiornu » Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:04 am

The response planned by CincPac was a seies of raids into the Mandates, not a move toward the Philippines.

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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by RNfanDan » Sat Nov 29, 2008 11:11 am

What am I missing, here?

If the Japanese begin the war the same way but do not attack Pearl, what would Japan attack otherwise, that would compel the US to war--the Philippines? The author mentions no alternative igniting point for the US to be thus compelled, but if the ASSUMPTION is a Philippine attack, what holding-back of Kido Butai has taken place? Certainly Nagumo's post-PH sweeps through the Dutch East Indies needs to happen, as the British at Singapore and Trincomalee will not sit idly by, and who is going to establish their initial defensive perimeter--Yamamoto and his battleships?

The Pearl Harbor attack in other words, was a delay maneuver (which backfired because they failed to knock it out as a base) to buy them time to grab these resource-rich possessions. Instigating an attack on the Philippines grabs them local control and probably enough time to get a big start, but how would they begin moving troops into the colonial assets they coveted without Kido Butai's support? They could in no way hold back their best force for an unknown counterattack, and in the meantime, someone has to deal with cleaning house of the Dutch and British naval forces elsewhere.

Just curious...
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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by Bgile » Sat Nov 29, 2008 6:48 pm

I was assuming Kido Butai would be involved in the operations it was historically except for PH. Instead of PH they would do something else. Admittedly the OP said "in reserve", which IMO would be silly.

I suppose they could have grabbed Midway. That would handicap US submarine operations until it was retaken, and the necessity for the US to retake Midway might give the Japanese time to fortify Guadalcanal.

One advantage for the Japanese is the old battleships probably don't get rebuilt until after at least some of them are lost. After the rebuilds they were essentially modern battleships.

Just an idea and admittedly not very well thought through.

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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by lwd » Sat Nov 29, 2008 11:00 pm

I believe several years before PH the US navy had pretty much concluded that they'd have to wait a year or two after the war started to head for the Philippines.

As for the US CV force being inferior to that of Japan. In some ways yes in others no. The US had a lot better AA doctrine and seamed to have a better CAP early in the war. Furthermore the Zero was hardly superior to the wildcat and I'm not at all sure that the Japanese dive bombers were better than those of the US. Furthermore the US could get a raid underway faster. It might not have as devastating effect when it arrived but it could get there faster. US search doctrine was also apparently better as the US made extensive use of CV planes for searching where the Japanese tended to depend on their cruiser and BB planes for scouting. Both sides had there pluses and minuses in any given situation one might have an edge over the other. Then of course the US still has the advantage in code breaking.

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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by lwd » Sat Nov 29, 2008 11:03 pm

Bgile wrote:...I suppose they could have grabbed Midway. That would handicap US submarine operations until it was retaken, and the necessity for the US to retake Midway might give the Japanese time to fortify Guadalcanal.....
Midway becomes even more problematic if PH hasn't been hit. For one thing it's garrison including aircraft are likely to be even stronger unless the Japanese go for it in Dec of 41 and that's awfully risky especially as I think Midway is in B-17 range of Hawaii.

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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Nov 29, 2008 11:17 pm

lwd:
As for the US CV force being inferior to that of Japan. In some ways yes in others no. The US had a lot better AA doctrine and seamed to have a better CAP early in the war. Furthermore the Zero was hardly superior to the wildcat and I'm not at all sure that the Japanese dive bombers were better than those of the US. Furthermore the US could get a raid underway faster. It might not have as devastating effect when it arrived but it could get there faster. US search doctrine was also apparently better as the US made extensive use of CV planes for searching where the Japanese tended to depend on their cruiser and BB planes for scouting. Both sides had there pluses and minuses in any given situation one might have an edge over the other. Then of course the US still has the advantage in code breaking.
Well, that´s not that easy to state, lwd. Kido Butai was a fantastic force with a close order doctrine that enfatize on massive attack. The USN didn´t have that doctrine at all well after Midway. Evidence? Coral Sea and Midway itself. Whilst the only Japanese attack, which was against Midway island, was a combination of weapons of all four carriers and, this is important so pay attention, one of the reasons Nagumo didn´t sent individual squadrons against the USN CVs because he would not commit them until an all-carrier force could deliver the punch the USN commited their units piecemeal. It was success? Yes. An outstanding, heroic, bold action. But tell me: how many of Hornet´s plane attack Kido Butai at all? Zero. Why? They were launched and operated independently from Enterprise´s ones. The Zero, for those days, was vastly superior to anything the US had. Isn´t until the appearance of the Hellcat and the Corsair that the dog fight scenario changed.
AA for each force was show of. No force had neither the guns nor the adecuate way to train them properly against t diving bomber, almost only against torpedo carrier planes.
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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by Bgile » Sun Nov 30, 2008 8:16 am

lwd wrote:
Bgile wrote:...I suppose they could have grabbed Midway. That would handicap US submarine operations until it was retaken, and the necessity for the US to retake Midway might give the Japanese time to fortify Guadalcanal.....
Midway becomes even more problematic if PH hasn't been hit. For one thing it's garrison including aircraft are likely to be even stronger unless the Japanese go for it in Dec of 41 and that's awfully risky especially as I think Midway is in B-17 range of Hawaii.
My supposition was that Midway be attacked instead of PH and that it be invaded. B-17s are pretty much useless against naval vessels at sea; you only have to look at their lack of success during the actual Midway battle and all through the Pacific. they had some limited success against slow transports. In any case, I don't think Midway is within combat radius of b17 from Hawaii.

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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by lwd » Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:46 pm

The B-17E is quoted as haveing a ferry range of 3,200 miles at:
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsh ... sp?id=2452
and the distance from Honolulu to Midway is listed as 1,500 miles from Hawaii at:
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsh ... sp?id=2452
Not clear what part of Hawaii they are talking about. Looks to me like it's just barely in range. Not sure with what kind of bomb load depends a lot too on how much if any safety margin is built into the max ferry range. Their target at least at the time of the invasion would obviously be the Japanese transports.

An invasion at that time would find the garrison substantially weaker than 6 months later when they tried it historically. On the other hand if the chances of an invasion fleet being spotted prior to the planned start of hostilities is much higher. Especially since the transports are slower. Also some of the ships used historically vs the Philippines would have to be used vs Midway. My impression is that it's probably not a good idea but I'm far from certain at this point.

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Re: Pacific War without Pearl Harbor

Post by Bgile » Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:19 pm

Ferry range is a one way trip with no bombs and often no ammunition.

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