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Japan winning the Pacific War


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5 hours ago, TrustMe said:

I thought it got started in 1939.

Einstein and Szilard wrote their first letter to Roosevelt in early March 1940, and then Einstein two more in late April of the same year. That it took a further 18 months to authorize the development, and then one additional year to actually start the project in practice is pretty much in line with the pace of high priority/high profile government decisions.

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11 hours ago, TrustMe said:

I thought it got started in 1939. I remember reading on the internet years ago that someone patented Atomic Power in Britian in 1937. I don't know if thats true or not. 

This is worth a look  The Tube Alloys Directorate. 

https://www.oxforddnb.com/display/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-93791;jsessionid=13CC5322B280637FC4AA0B4D5C4AD6A7

 

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10 hours ago, Ssnake said:

Einstein and Szilard wrote their first letter to Roosevelt in early March 1940, and then Einstein two more in late April of the same year. That it took a further 18 months to authorize the development, and then one additional year to actually start the project in practice is pretty much in line with the pace of high priority/high profile government decisions.

Who said you did not have a sense of humor. And truth :)

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Not remotely trying to make fun of it.

1) The US President doesn't act based on a single letter, not even one coming from Einstein.

Roosevelt must have consulted other people whether what's written in the letter is reasonable, if it's indeed a significant threat or a potential etc.; basically, it's a vetting process, and in this case it was about as brand new cutting edge physics as it gets; until 1938 atoms were considered indestructible and "eternal"; enter Lise Meitner proving the Uranium nucleus decay (and Otto Hahn collecting the Nobel prize for it). Two years later Szilard had figured out how a neutron avalanche could be sustained, "in principle". Talks this over with Einstein who, up to this point, discarded the idea as purely theoretical and utterly impractical. Einstein eventually understands the implications of Szilard's ideas and gets the heebie-jeebies at the thought that Heisenberg and his fellow Nazi physicists may eventually figure it out, too.

After Roosevelt is convinced that it's a real possibility, the next question is what it takes to win the race. No only does it cost an enormous heap of money, it also must be conducted in secrecy. Next to nobody in the government is allowed to know about it. It needs to be hidden even from Congress and the appropriations committee.

That really is a master class in statemanship. Governments aren't very good at keeping secrets, and politicians even less so. But politicians are in control of the budget, and this is going to be a very costly secret. Talk about a challenge!

 

2) Once that the basic path how all this could be accomplished has been figured out, Roosevelt actually authorizes the whole venture. Only now can Oppenheimer start to develop a cohesive project plan, decide who's going to be needed at what step, how the knowledge of the whole project can be compartmentalized - that a whole secret town needs to be built in the desert without any of the contractors learning what all this is really about - and to recruit the various teams, define the information flow and how teams that must not know what the others are doing can coordinate their activities.

 

All this was a really tall order!

Not only did they keep it a secret for all practical matters. They also delivered a working bomb, which was a string of really, really hard engineering challenges. They had to develop everything at a point when they had barely understood the principles of the atomic nucleus. They had to make all their calculations manually. They had to figure out isotope separation and Plutonium breeding to generate enough material for one bomb type and one demonstrator bomb each. They had to devise fuzes, they had to figure out implosion shockwave dynamics and how to assemble the bombs in an air-transportable package. And all that within three years.

If you're not impressed with that, you don't understand the magnitude of the task.

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3 hours ago, Ssnake said:

 

They had to figure out isotope separation and Plutonium breeding to generate enough material for one bomb type and one demonstrator bomb each. They had to devise fuzes, they had to figure out implosion shockwave dynamics and how to assemble the bombs in an air-transportable package. And all that within three years.

 

Actually, this was easier and harder than that. From the start, the idea was a gun-type weapon, which was so simple it didn't need to be tested (and Little boy wasn't), but getting the required amount of U235 was a huge challenge (in the literal sense, as Oak Ridge was built to do this), so the discovery of Plutonium was a real breakthrough in industrial production of A bombs, but here came the snag, a gun-type weapon wouldn't work, so the whole explosive lenses implosion desgin had to be designed, with the invaluable help of a certain Klaus Fuchs that betrayed the design to the USSR.

IIRC the Japanese were thinking of using a particle accelerator and a centrifuge, which were better ways to get the U235, but as mentioned, hampered by low priority and lack of resources.

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25 minutes ago, Perun said:

Best way for Imperial Japan to win war is to not attack Pearl Harbour or any US base. Their best chances was in US antiwar mood which they helped destroy with Pearl Harbour attack

I'd take it further and say no aggression of any sort, not just against the US.  Pull back out of Indochina, retreat to Manchukuo, hunker down like DB suggested, and pray that Americans do not become angered.  The Japanese fuel reserve was 6 million tons, which should be good for the merchant fleet during WW2 if the battle fleet were made inactive.  The withdrawals might allow some concessions on trade, such as more oil.

 

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Viewing US motivation during the war from hindsight may gave the conclusion that other routes not angering that will would have been the better way to go. But if seeing from at the moment, the 1941 surveys suggest the US was not so isolationists. RO11, posted them in the Donkey thread recently. If they were, the oil embargo would never have happened to begin with. FDR had high public support, and war production had already been in place, 11 Essex class carriers were already ordered in July-September 1940. It wouldn't be hard to get the war going with or without the PH attack. 

From the surveys.. as early as February 1941 and already "Should US stop Japan taking Singapore and Dutch Indies".  It's going to look pretty obvious that any plan at taking the Dutch Indies will need to include the Philippines and a fight with the US. Shortly after the placement of the embargo, the survey finds the US already ready to go to war with Japan. 

 

FEBRUARY 24

JAPAN

Interviewing Date 2/16-21/41

Survey #230-T Question #7a

Do you think the United States should try to keep Japan from seizing the Dutch East Indies and Singapore?

Yes................................ 56%

No................................ 24

No opinion......................... 20

Interviewing Date 2/16-21/41

Survey #230-T Question #7b

Do you think the United States should risk war with Japan, if necessary, in order to keep Japan from taking the Dutch East Indies and Singapore?

Yes................................ 39%

No................................ 46

No opinion......................... 15

 

 

SEPTEMBER 7

JAPAN

Interviewing Date 8/21-26/41

Survey #245-K Question #13

Should the United States take steps now to keep Japan from becoming more powerful, even if it means risking a war with Japan?

Yes................................ 70%

No................................ 18

No opinion......................... 12

 

 

JAPAN

Interviewing Date 10/24-29/41

Survey #251-K Question #9

Should the United States take steps now to prevent Japan from becoming more powerful, even if this means risking a war with Japan?

Yes................................ 64%

No................................ 25

No opinion......................... 11

https://ibiblio.org/pha/Gallup/Gallup 1941.htm

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On 1/7/2023 at 6:18 AM, RichTO90 said:

If my count is correct, 29 Ukuru-class kaibokan were commissioned, two others were launched but not completed, ten others were on the stocks incomplete, and 22 were cancelled before they were laid down.

The standard active and passive sonar (echo-ranging and hydrophone sets) as designed were Type 93, which was a prewar design that owed nothing to German technology. Eleven Ukuru-class were intended to be equipped with the Type 3 Model 5 and 6 echo-ranging sonar, which was developed from German technology but none were apparently ever fitted.

The Type C and D Kaibokan were intended to be fitted with Type 93 echo-ranging and Type 3 hydrophones but only 35 sets of the former were installed in all the kaibokan types, although 420 of the latter were installed in "merchant ships", which probably included the kaibokan. So a few C and D types may have had hydrophones.

It's my understanding the IJN got more useful ASW technology out of Singapore than they ever did out of Germany. Several moons ago, I ran thought the NavTechJap reports pretty thoroughly with an eye specifically on ASW technology, and yes they bought the latest German gear and had some sets  based on them in the works at wars end. But the bulk of the systems they actually deployed were a mix of home grown and Type 127 (IIRC) and they also looked at Type 135 (again IIRC) with much interest. In any case they had the RN chemical recorder and based their own on it, and were intrigued by the ARL table but I don't recall they looked at copying that. I suspect as they recovered most of this kit from shallow wrecks, electronics were a lot easier to reverse engineer than electromechanical computers. 

We couldn't quite work out if the Japanese got hold of the confidential section of the Fleet Library at Singapore, or if they did what might have happened with it. In theory it would have been destroyed before surrender but we all know how flawed that process can be, and how often useful intelligence can be extracted even from successful 'destruction' efforts. There would/should have been a full and up to date copy of the Portland Papers, Force Z bought out all the latest revisions. The IJN seemed to be diligent at exploiting wrecks for intelligence, and as mentioned they got into the harbour defence ASDIC, so one might think they'd have gone after the naval base - but if they had what amounted to not only the full RN ASW doctrine but the research and evidence it was based on, well there's not much sign of it.  Perhaps it was properly destroyed, perhaps the Japense Army used it for toilet paper...

In other news the IJN really should have been going to the Italians anyway,  with a few notable exceptions the RM were a far more professional force than the KM, they certainly had better ASW technology and doctrine. :D 

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12 hours ago, Argus said:

In other news the IJN really should have been going to the Italians anyway,  with a few notable exceptions the RM were a far more professional force than the KM, they certainly had better ASW technology and doctrine. :D 

How does better ASW technology allow Japan to win a war against the United States?

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9 hours ago, glenn239 said:

How does better ASW technology allow Japan to win a war against the United States?

It doesn't,  but if you're going to fight anyway then you might as well have the best tools you can get. 

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33 minutes ago, Argus said:

It doesn't,  but if you're going to fight anyway then you might as well have the best tools you can get. 

Hard to disagree with that, but if Japan had any chance of winning the war, (and we all seem to agree it didn't), it had to be a short one along the lines of what Yamamoto pictured, not a long one in which they'd be ground down.  Hard to see an investment in ASW playing in the outcome to a short war.

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1 minute ago, futon said:

That excludes me from we 😇

I don't think they could have won, but I can say how I think Japan should have swung for the fences.  

 The oil blockade was the immediate cause for the Japanese decision for war.  They calculated that they could not withstand an embargo for too long before having to capitulate to American demands.  It does not take too much imagination to suppose that as the US forces built up to overwhelming on Luzon and the Japanese oil inventories dried up, that even if the Japanese had undertaken an appeasement policy that the US would have attacked them after 1943. Chinese-Japanese frictions will no doubt have provided endless opportunity.

Paradoxically, the Netherlands East indies might have triggered the Japanese offensive, but its early capture was largely irrelevant to the outcome of the war.  That is because the Japanese only needed the resources of the Southern region in a long war, and a long war was the one they could not win against the United States.

 

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On 1/10/2023 at 11:10 AM, glenn239 said:

<snip>Hard to see an investment in ASW playing in the outcome to a short war.


Don't tell that to Courageous, Barham, Indianapolis or any other warship sunk by a sub launched torpedo.   Nor for that matter any allied serviceperson form either world war that deployed to continental Europe from the UK. ASW is about a lot more than convoys and long wars of attrition :)

Edited by Argus
correction of error
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Again, I don't see how Japan would win a short war - at least not with a minimal set of assumptions. It would require not only a stronger opening than Pearl Harbor - not impossible, but increasingly unlikely the better you want the results to be - but also the US remaining isolationist, or demoralized. I just don't see how the US public would assume that mood, especially if the surprise attack would have cost even more US lives. Democracies need a rallying cause to go to war, and surprise attacks tend to be among the best causes.

Maybe, if Japan had hired all of Madison Avenue and booked radio shows and whatnot to saturate the US public with propaganda that its actions in Asia were just and/or in the interests of the US the will of the US public to wage war with Japan could have been eroded. But then again, the rather ham-fisted attempts of Tokyo Rose to seduce American soldiers suggest that this wasn't Japan's strongest suit. And let's be fair, this was still the Jim Crow era. I just don't see much potential during that time to evoke sympathy for Imperial Japan's cause.

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3 minutes ago, Argus said:


Don't tell that to Glorious, Barham, Indianapolis or any other warship sunk by a sub launched torpedo.   Nor for that matter any allied serviceperson form either world war that deployed to continental Europe from the UK. ASW is about a lot more than convoys and long wars of attrition :)

Because of overwhelming US production advantages, ASW for Japan was investing in the art of losing a long war as slowly as possible.  Better to lose a short war spectacularly than a long war slowly.

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4 minutes ago, Ssnake said:

Again, I don't see how Japan would win a short war - at least not with a minimal set of assumptions.

I don't think they could either, but I see a general road map - .

1.  Japan needs a short war with the United States based on a political outcome.  But, with Barbarossa, the best political possibility available to Japan was eliminated.  (Sealion is not popular around here, but for Japan's situation, it would have been much better than Barbarossa).  

2.  Japan had sufficient oil supply in reserve to fight for year without capturing the Netherlands East Indies.  

3. There was no short war scenario even conceivable in which the United States keeps Hawaii.

4.  The United States would no doubt be uninterested in a separate peace with Japan, but the United Kingdom might become invested in it under certain conditions.

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42 minutes ago, glenn239 said:

Because of overwhelming US production advantages, ASW for Japan was investing in the art of losing a long war as slowly as possible.  Better to lose a short war spectacularly than a long war slowly.

Oh dear me no, not at all.

The US Production advantage is a time based benefit. Presuming war starts with roughly historical force levels, the only short war on offer is a Japanese victory, which we have agreed that is less than likely.  US Forces are still split East/West and they are not going to abandon the Atlantic. So if the overall naval force ratio starts at about 5/3 in America's favour. In practice it is no more than 4/3 against Japan, and %25 is significant to be sure, but hardly an overwhelming deluge.

So lets say Imperial Japan was less Imperially Japanese, and opened the war in a way that doesn't eliminate any hope of a negotiated peace... say they declare war 2 days before the first strike hits or something, the details don't really matter, but they gain roughly historical results. Its still going to take the first year to stabilise the situation, the second year to start pushing back, and the third year to do the real fighting before the US is going to be a position to end things unilaterally.  

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3 hours ago, Ssnake said:

Again, I don't see how Japan would win a short war - at least not with a minimal set of assumptions. It would require not only a stronger opening than Pearl Harbor - not impossible, but increasingly unlikely the better you want the results to be - but also the US remaining isolationist, or demoralized. I just don't see how the US public would assume that mood, especially if the surprise attack would have cost even more US lives. Democracies need a rallying cause to go to war, and surprise attacks tend to be among the best causes.

Maybe, if Japan had hired all of Madison Avenue and booked radio shows and whatnot to saturate the US public with propaganda that its actions in Asia were just and/or in the interests of the US the will of the US public to wage war with Japan could have been eroded. But then again, the rather ham-fisted attempts of Tokyo Rose to seduce American soldiers suggest that this wasn't Japan's strongest suit. And let's be fair, this was still the Jim Crow era. I just don't see much potential during that time to evoke sympathy for Imperial Japan's cause.

It's not as if Chinese people were any more popular in America than Japanese.  The Chinese, however, did have better PR in the US and the advamtage that much of their propaganda was simply reporting the facts that the Japanese were the aggressors and had behaved abominably.  If the Japanese could portray Chiang as soft on COmmunism and an ally/puppet of teh CCP and could have avoided some of the worst xcesses, they had a small cjhance of keeping the US univolve.  That they didn't and then decided to ally with Hitler and mussolini really screwed them.

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The US sort of viewed a competition with the SU in getting on the Nationalists Chinese side. They didn't want the only aid givers to the Nationalists to be the Soviets. There was business to be had in China way back then as well, with an intetest in keeping those special rights in China, not promised to be relaxed until 1943 when Japan made same promise to the Wang Regime. The Soviet Union provided quite a lot of aid such as T-26 tanks and pilots and fighte airceaft prior Operation Barbarossa, to which afterwards, SU aid to the Nationalists dried up. Prior the start of the second Sino-Chinese war, the SU backed the Chinese communists. But they became more concerned about Japan winning so they switched their aid to the Nationalists because they were more able to resist than the Chinese communists.

A several years earlier, when Japan invaded Manchuria, the US responded by giving recognition to the SU as a means of balancing Japan and a hope in access to SU markets. Nevermind that the SU had established a puppet regime of its own in Mongolia a few years prior and the Chinese Communists were in the high at that time. Later into the late 1930s, naturally the SU became more important to the US and GB as a counter to Germany. Lend-lease would go to both the Nationalists and the SU. For that, the SU calmed down its "spead communism agenda" and the US put in good word for the SU as well. So it would be hard to see the US warming up to Japan on anti-communism. If communism really mattered to the US, then they would just shrug their shoulders when Japan took Manchuria. But FDR had a different view.

The primary basis for Japan to join the axis was an anti-communism pack. Which was why Japan was rather shocked at the Molotov-Ribbentrop, right after the Nomonhan battle. Due to that, previously mentioned Matsuoka took on a foreign policy of trying to forge a relations triangle of Japan-SU-Germany. Clearly a result would be to reduce SU aid to Chinese (whichever faction) and reduce risk along Manchukuo border. But that endeavor would be short lived by another reversal, The sudden Operation Barbarossa. It didn't take him long to consider going against the SU along with it, but then he was relieved by Konoye for the previously mentioned reason.

Before Japan and German relations started to develop in late 1937 and 1938 Germany had good relations with the Nationalists Chinese. The whole international dynamic was very fluid. 

Edited by futon
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12 hours ago, Argus said:

The US Production advantage is a time based benefit. Presuming war starts with roughly historical force levels, the only short war on offer is a Japanese victory, which we have agreed that is less than likely.  US Forces are still split East/West and they are not going to abandon the Atlantic. So if the overall naval force ratio starts at about 5/3 in America's favour. In practice it is no more than 4/3 against Japan, and %25 is significant to be sure, but hardly an overwhelming deluge.

To be clear the chances of Japan winning a short war makes Sealion's chances look like a naval Desert Storm.  But, even if the odds are nil, there will be a plan, a strategy, that is inherently better than other plans.   For Japan, the strategic outlook in Tokyo was a long war scenario, the one Japan could never win.  They'd convinced themselves that Japanese moral character could overcome the production balance sheet.  If they'd not done that, if they'd decided that it had to be a short war, then the way Japan fights will be for a short war, and that means different tactics and a different strategy.  And, in what I think the 'best' short war strategy might be, ASW technology does not play because it's useless to the outcome of a short war.

Quote

So lets say Imperial Japan was less Imperially Japanese, and opened the war in a way that doesn't eliminate any hope of a negotiated peace... say they declare war 2 days before the first strike hits or something, the details don't really matter, but they gain roughly historical results. Its still going to take the first year to stabilise the situation, the second year to start pushing back, and the third year to do the real fighting before the US is going to be a position to end things unilaterally.  

Three years to bring Japan to its knees is about right for the historical case.  If Japan takes Hawaii, this might add 6-12 months and make it 4 years.  But in either case, the US can and will play the long game.  So how does Japan change the calculus in Washington that liquidating the conflict in the short terms is seen as the better optiion?  I'm skeptical they can, but it is what they needed to do.

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And, in what I think the 'best' short war strategy might be, ASW technology does not play because it's useless to the outcome of a short war.

And you are wrong - sorry.

'ASW' is not just trade protection, attritional economic warfare and all that jazz. It is also force protection at the tactical level. Courageous, Barham and Indianapolis were not the only warships sunk out the blue by submarine launched torpedoes, just the first three that sprang to mind. Invasion operations are very vulnerable to submarine, the ASW plan for Normandy was intense. 

Short war, long war makes no difference, ASW is a basic capability and not wanting to have the best you can get is as off base as not wanting to have the best available AAA. 

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On 1/10/2023 at 8:05 PM, Argus said:

And you are wrong - sorry.

'ASW' is not just trade protection, attritional economic warfare and all that jazz. It is also force protection at the tactical level. 

The Japanese started the war with adequate ASW means suitable for a short war.  They had the force protection measures necessary to invade Hawaii, or where ever, and cover their operations for the first year or more of the war.   But to invest for the USN submarine campaign in 1943 or 1944?  This was a waste of resources.  If the war is going on in 1944, then Japan has already lost it and it does not matter what new ASW tech or platforms they've introduced.  

Quote

Short war, long war makes no difference, ASW is a basic capability and not wanting to have the best you can get is as off base as not wanting to have the best available AAA. 

That logic certainly applies for the Americans who can afford everything, but not at all for the Japanese who could not.  ASW tech was expensive on warship building resources and on the need for electronics - two things Japan did not have to spare.  It was also defensive in nature, something that will not win a short war.

During the Indian Ocean Raid, Ozawa's surface raiders sank about 20 ships of around 100,000 tons, plus some others scooped up by Nagumo.  One operational tactic that could have been implemented instead of ASW - particularly in the Indian Ocean where British air and naval forces were weak - was to try to capture merchant shipping instead of sinking it.   As threatening British control of India was probably the one thing the Japanese could do to create the possibility of a serious Allied discussion of the merits of a separate peace, sinking or capturing as much Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean also made strategic sense.

 

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