10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
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neil hilton
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by neil hilton » Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:47 am

I thought of those aspects myself (lack of shipping, troops being tied down in China) but to me it seems like to easy an answer.
Their were millions of Japanese troops in China, they weren't all fighting the Chinese. Surely some of the the army reserve could have been redployed, 50000 or 100000 or 200000 moved to the Phippines or Iwo Jima or even Guam. What about the Japanese troops in French Indo China or Korea.
From what I've read Japan started the war with 6000000 tons of shiping, they constructed about 6000000 tons and lost nearly 10000000 tons which left around 2000000 tons. Not enough to run their economy. Submarine blockades are not 100% efficient, they take a long time to have any economic effect, otherwise the war would have been 'over by Christmas'. Some ships always get through, so troops and supplies could have been transported.
These factors did have an effect but it was not the main reason IMO. I remember reading that the IJN and the IJA simply never really co-operated with each other, the IJN kept secret the disasters it had suffered in the Pacific from the IJA and even the government. I think this attitude was the real problem.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:08 pm

Another factor you are not taking into account Neil were the chronic inefficiencies in the Japanese manufacturing industries and economy in general. It substantially undermined Japan's ability to prosecute a total war.

Specifically Japanese industry, compared with the United States, suffered from poor quality management of labour and materials, with the result not only of shortages but an inability to make the best use of what they had. Production methods tended to be labour intensive, chronically outdated, of poor quality, productivity bore no relation to that of either Britain or certainly the US. even the German armaments industry regulated by Speer was far more efficient than its Japanese counterparts. The Japanese had good engineers - but their social status, compared with the military officer corps, was worse than the street gutter.

After 1945 the US occupation of Japan included US engineers, both military and civil, taking a close look at Japan's heavy industries. They thought it was a laughing stock. Today Japan is an industrial giant, having learned from the US oocupation in adapting to US production methods. But in WW2 Japan was not an industrial giant, it bears closer resemblance to some of the developing third world economies today. And because they thought the Japanese were industrially useless, the Americans never took the opportunity of taking over Toyota, Honda, Suzuki etc. and saving themselves a lot of competition later on.....
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RF
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:15 pm

neil hilton wrote:
Their were millions of Japanese troops in China, they weren't all fighting the Chinese. Surely some of the the army reserve could have been redployed, 50000 or 100000 or 200000 moved to the Phippines or Iwo Jima or even Guam. What about the Japanese troops in French Indo China or Korea.
China is a vast, continent sized country, with an even vaster population. Occupying even the areas they did overrun the Japanese did literally need milions of troops for their occupation to function and fight both sets of Chinese forces (Kuomintang and communist); like Hitler in Russia, they took on an enemy that simply was too big for them. And that is before you consider the occupation of the French, Dutch and British colonies as well.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by lwd » Fri Jun 25, 2010 4:31 pm

There was also the threat of a Soviet invasion. While it wasn't to significant in 42 by 44 it was very real and materialized in 45. Then there's the issue of did Japan really start out the war with enough shipping to take care of her conquests? From what I've read supplies were not in abundance anywhere on the periphery even 42 and 43 before they started loosing vast quantities of ships. Now you need to take some of the ships off line to move troops and then you need to use even more to keep those troops supplied. Then there's the impact of the fighting heating up. Even infantry start expending a lot of supplies when they are engaged in serious action.

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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:11 pm

Lack of required logistics + inefficient economy + too many enemies + totally inadequate planning and leadership = why Japan could never have won WW2.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by neil hilton » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:56 am

Now that makes more sense to me, considering all the above mentioned factors.
By late 1944 the Japanese were forced to use junks and barges to transport troops and supplies, so transportation would be difficult but not impossible. The lack of co-operation between the IJA and IJN and the extensive commitments of the IJA in China probably resulted in only a trickle of troop re-deployment from China to the Pacific theatre.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:08 pm

I agree that the Japanese held large numbers of veteran IJA troops on the Asian mainland, principally in China, but also in Burma which was a major theater of offensive operations as late as mid-1944. I suspect the reason why more IJA assets were not committed in the Pacific theater of operations was simply a matter of oceanic logistics. The Japanese experience on New Guinea is probably suggestive of the problems that they faced in maintaining large forces far from the homeland in locales lacking major conventional port facilities.

Another problem was the US tactic of simply by-passing Japanese-held island bastions and leaving their garrisons to wither on the vine. Rabaul and Truk were the most notable examples; Rabaul alone held a Japanese garrison of 100,000 men who were reduced from soldiers to ineffectual subsistence farmers in this manner. A number of other lesser islands suffered the same fate. While the Japanese were forced to defend against every credible potential threat along their vast seaward defensive perimeter, the Americans were able to select specific attack axes and targets and ignore all else.

That having been said, the IJA was in process of moving very great numbers oftroops back from China to the defense of the home islands when the war was mercifully brought to an end.


Byron

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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:54 pm

The IJA and the IJN were never on the same page. They were each running their own war, their own way. Frank examines this chronic lack of unity in relation to the Guadalcanal campaign in some detail. Although Guadalcanal was a ongoing campaign rather than a moment, it would be my pick as most important in the Pacific.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by tnemelckram » Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:25 am

Hi RF!
You forgot to include the inventions of sextant and chronometer.
You are absolutely right. Tortuously revised list, because I think sextant should come before packages incendiaries and the chronometer is Cap'n Cook's contemporary:

1. Water displacing hull shape (hollowed out log).
2. Oar.
3. Tiller.
4. Sail.
5. Packaged incendiaries.
6. Navigation devices (sextant and chronometer).
7. Food preservatives (salt), antiseptic washes (Anson and Hawke?) and dietary standards (Capt. Cook).
8. Metal shaping.
9. Fueled propulsion.
10. Long range sensing devices.

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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:18 pm

This is a good list. Point 7 should also include the discovery of refrigeration as a successor to the overuse of salt as preservatives....
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:20 pm

Incidently, looking at point 7 under the importance of diet, you could also add in the name of Captain Bligh.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by lwd » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:39 pm

the lanteen rigged sail was also a big step forward as was the compass.

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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by tnemelckram » Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:08 am

Hi RF and LWD!
Point 7 should also include the discovery of refrigeration as a successor to the overuse of salt as preservatives....
RF you are right. Number 7 revised: 7. Food preservation methods (i.e. salt, canning, refrigeration), antiseptic washes (Anson and Hawke?) and dietary standards (Capt. Cook).
_______________________________
Incidently, looking at point 7 under the importance of diet, you could also add in the name of Captain Bligh.
RF, again right, but I think it might be better to keep the points as short and punchy as possible. Probably most people associate improved diet with Cook and all they associate with Bligh is the famous mutiny, so it might just add confusion. Here's a cute quote from Cook's Journal or Report:
The Sour Kraut the Men at first would not eate until I put in practice a Method I never once knew to fail with seamen, and this was to have some of it dress'd every Day for the Cabbin Table, and permitted all of the Officers without exception to make use of it and left it to the option of the Men to take as much as they pleased or none at all; but this practice was not continued above a week before I found it necessary to put every one on board on an Allowance, for such are the Tempers and dispositions of Seamen in general that whatever you give them out of the Common way, altho' it be ever so much for their good and yet it will not go down with them and you will hear nothing but murmurings 'gainst the man who first invented it, but the moment they see their Superiors set a Value upon it, it becomes the finest stuff in the World and the inventor a damn'd honest fellow.
__________________________________
the lanteen rigged sail was also a big step forward as was the compass.
LWD, you are right that this, and actually each and every, advancement in sail technology was a game changer in warfare. But maybe we should balance against that the Holy Shit moment that came to the first caveman who stuck a sail into the wind and found out that he did not have to exhaust himself rowing, would not have to carry the weight of extra dedicated rowers, but instead could carry more weaponry to the enemy. It seems the first sail was the biggest, but the advancements also cannot be ignored, SO how about this Point 4 revision: 4. Sail, and subsequent advances in sail technology (lanteen, fore and aft).

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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:29 am

The point about Captain Bligh was that his atitude to balanced diet and dietry standards was demonstrated during the mutiny, when he and the loyal members of the crew were cast adrift in an open boat and had to sail some 2,400 miles to safety. As the Court of Enquiry observed, it was not just an outstanding feat of seamanship but also one of leadership and foresight, not least in properly rationing the available water and food supplies.

This aspect of Bligh's leadership is often ignored in popular accounts of the mutiny, because it ''confuses'' and spoils a good story.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by lwd » Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:29 pm

tnemelckram wrote: ... But maybe we should balance against that the Holy Shit moment that came to the first caveman who stuck a sail into the wind and found out that he did not have to exhaust himself rowing, would not have to carry the weight of extra dedicated rowers, but instead could carry more weaponry to the enemy. It seems the first sail was the biggest, but the advancements also cannot be ignored, SO how about this Point 4 revision: 4. Sail, and subsequent advances in sail technology (lanteen, fore and aft).
But early sails were used more for merchant vessels than warships. The main motive power of warships was oars up until cannon became common.

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