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Measuring the balance of power (air and naval)

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by Frank Conry, Mar 21, 2022.

  1. Frank Conry

    Frank Conry New Member

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    First post here.

    I'm teaching my son about the pacific theater and we have some good resources and readings but I was hoping we could iew it througha pure war materiel balance of power. So, for example after Pearl Harbor set things up with each sides # aircraft carrier, battleships, destroyers, fighers, bombers etc. and be able to update those throughout the course of the war to illustrate:

    1) The ramp up time for the US industrial might to start making an impact
    2) The magnitude of that impact
    3) The initial Japanese advantage after PH
    4) Why early 1941 didn't really have alot of action (like actual invasions) on the US side

    Does anone know where I can find this data? Also open to suggestions.
     
  2. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    1) I'd say autumn of 1943.
    2) Slow at first like an incoming tide, growing continually until it became overpowering.
    4) Not sufficient sea lift, troops, fleet support units (tankers, tenders, repair ships) or aircraft with trained crews.

    IMHO, the Guadalcanal Campaign was the crucial campaign in the Pacific. Both sides threw everything they had into the fight. The cream of Japanese airpower was destroyed by attrition. For instance, the distance from Rabaul to Guadalcanal was 650 miles, a 1,300-mile round trip for the Japanese aviators striking it daily, many times multiple strikes. The trip was mostly over water, how many wounded pilots, damaged aircraft, mechanical failures, etc. were lost? To compare, the distance from London to Berlin was 590 miles or 1180 round trip. Remember what a big deal it was when the allies finally had fighters with sufficient range to escort the bombers on that run? The Japanese were doing it in mid-1942! The distances in the pacific were huge. That explains why the types and models of aircraft used needed different capabilties than those used in Europe. That explains why seizing bases (for airfields/ports/forward supply) and the naval battles to support or oppose them were so crucial.
    For a short period near the end of the Guadalcanal campaign the US had no operational fleet carriers in the Pacific (until the USS Enterprise, Big "E" was repaired). It was a big deal when the Essex's started arriving in 1943.
    How old is your son? That might dictate the most appropriate material to recommend.
    -I'd recommend James D. Hornfischer's "Neptune's Inferno" for the Naval Battle's around Guadalcanal. Great descriptions of the naval battles, the strategic and operational factors, and he goes into a lot of the logistical challenges of the early war period.
    -I'd recommend Hyperwar (this sites owner, Otto, took over and preserved it after the original owner passed. A member here, Opanapointer, helped build the site).
    Here's a link to the PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations): HyperWar: World War II: Pacific Theater of Operations: Contents (ibiblio.org)
    -Here's a link to a resource I find useful to flesh out my understanding of specific things I come across concerning the Pacific. Locations, ships, units, aircraft, ...
    Pacific War Online Encyclopedia: Table of Contents of Pacific War Online Encyclopedia (kgbudge.com)
    -For all things Japanese Navy, you can't beat Combined Fleet: Nihon Kaigun (combinedfleet.com)
    -If you want to dig deeper into the details of the naval weapons used, here's a great resource, NavWeapons: Naval Weapons of the World - NavWeaps
    -For a good documentary film "The Fighting Lady". Actual, footage of carrier operations on the CV-10 Yorktown, one of the first Essex's to serve in the Pacific. When the documentary was made, her actual name was classified, so she was referred to by her nickname. Robert Taylor narrates:
    The Fighting Lady (1944) - YouTube
    ---Continued
     
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  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Early war the Japanese had the best trained pilots, the most powerful naval force in their carrier strike force, Kido Butai. It had the operational expertise to run rampant for a period. Their army was well trained and combat experienced, during the Malaya campaign and capture of Singapore, the Japanese inflicted what Winston Churchill called the "worst disaster" and "largest capitulation" in British military history. (130,000 British, Australian and Indian troops captured during the campaigns).

    This is a picture of Ulithi Atoll, a US forward fleet base. It's captioned "Murderers Row" after the New York Yankees sluggers of the era.

    [​IMG]

    That's why by mid-war Japan was doomed, we were producing ships and aircraft on a scale never before seen in history.

    Here's a group of ships sailing into Ulithi, one CVL, one fleet carrier, three new battleships and four light cruisers. POWER!

    [​IMG]

    The ships are (from front): Langley (CVL-27); Ticonderoga (CV-14); Washington (BB-56); North Carolina (BB-55); South Dakota (BB-57); Santa Fe (CL-60); Biloxi (CL-80); Mobile (CL-63) and Oakland (CL-95).

    -The HBO series the Pacific is excellent and very accurate, but maybe too intense if your son is younger.
    -The old John Wayne movie "They Were Expendable" is an excellent film about the defense of the Philippines. One of the main actors, Robert Montgomery, was actually a PT boat skipper during the war. He was also the executive officer to John D. Bulkeley, who had commanded Motor Torpedo Squadron Three in the Philippines. Bulkeley whose exploits were the basis for the movie was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions there. So, Montgomery was intimately familiar with the man he was portraying. I thought a lot of the stuff in the movie might be typical "Hollywood" exaggeration until my older son bought me the book, "At Close Quarters" about PT boats in the Pacific. It was written by an officer assigned to write the "official history" by the Navy and he expanded upon that to write the book. Virtually, everything that happened in the movie mirrors the actual events, down to many of the smallest events.
    -Another good book, also by James D. Hornfischer, is "Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors". It's later war, takes place during a portion of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history. In the Battle of Samar, (part of the larger Leyte Gulf battle) it was the fighting spirit of the US Navy and not material advantages that carried the day.
    Same/same with Tarawa earlier in the war, one of the most heavily defended positions ever assaulted. The island commander, Rear Admiral Keiji Shibazaki, had bragged "a million Americans" couldn't take the island "in a hundred years". Again, it was American "guts" and determination that won a battle that shouldn't have been won. The best book on the battle, IMHO, is "Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa" by Joseph Alexander. There is a documentary of the battle, "With the Marines at Tarawa" that won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1944.
    A link to it here: With the Marines at Tarawa - YouTube
    One fact about the battle somewhat explains your question #4. The battle took place in late November 1943. It was the first employment of medium tanks in a Pacific amphibious assault. Why? The early/mid-war M4 Sherman medium tank weighed between 33 and 35 tons depending upon the model. The heaviest boom on an AKA/APA was rated at 30 tons (AKA-Attack Cargo Ship, APA-Attack Transport/Auxiliary Personnel Attack). To offload heavier tanks, you needed port facilities with sufficient lift capacity to offload them. Standard procedure in amphibious assaults had been to offload an LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized) into the water, then hoist the tank and load it into the "Mike" boat. At Tarawa they had the "new" LSD (Landing Ship Dock) USS Ashland LSD-1 to transport the tanks, pre-loaded in LCM's, and launched them from its well deck. Prior to Tarawa the tanks the US landed were M3 Stuart light tanks (about 14 tons). This also explains why the Japanese weren't in any rush to develop medium tanks early/mid-war. If they had them, they couldn't deploy them unless they had access to substantial port facility's that didn't exist in most places' operations took place. In China where they were waging a major land campaign the Chinese lacked armor and a light tank was sufficient.
     
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  5. Frank Conry

    Frank Conry New Member

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    Thanks everybody for all the info.

    My son is 9 but reads well above his level. We are reading sections of Ian Toll's Trilogy and, frankly, we got a bit bogged down. He wants to see action and not flowery passages on Nimitiz's childhood, etc. So I am dropping most of it, going to use the battle descriptions. In addition we are mapping all the japanese advances, attacks, etc. on a world map (we'll map the US advances when we get there, just finished Pearl Harbor)

    But this approach leaves alot to be desired, like it will just seem like the USA kinda started to get on a roll as opposed to the massive power that came to bear on the Japanese over time. So that is why I was thinking of having him track the relative size of each Navy and Naval Aircraft Fleet as the war goes on. Like maybe put up a giant poster with the bigger ships and raw number of aircraft and update it before and after each major battle unit so he can see the balance of power in those terms and understand the awesome force imbalance.

    I think this site can give me wha tI need for the larger ships, carriers, battleships, destroyers (although it will hard to capture the more numerous smaller ships) but the aircraft pages don't detail losses and only have production listed by year (see here: The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia: A6M "Zero", Japanese Carrier Fighter)

    Definitely open to other ideas. Also the movie recommendations are great. I think The Pacific, which I love, is a bit too much but I'll check out the other ones. And the pics! SO AWESOME. Thanks again!
     
  6. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I thought he might be a younger fellow, that's why I asked his age. When my older son was similarly aged, it was a chore sometimes to get him to read dryer material, so I'd
    watch a movie on the subject with him to "prime the pump", "whet the appetite" so to speak. It worked, he eventually graduated with a masters in history.
    The aforementioned "They Were Expendable" will work for the Philippines, which is where you'll be going after Pearl Harbor.
    I mentioned Malaya/Singapore in the earlier post, Yamashita, "The Tiger of Malaya", was actually outnumbered by the British and soundly defeated them. Combat training and experience, innovation (he used bicycle's to move some of his troops rapidly for operational/tactical advantage), used light tanks in areas the British leaders thought impossible, and Japanese technological advantage in aircraft.

    So, I see you've used Pacific Online Encyclopedia. Had you found it before I'd suggested it? What do you think of it?

    Hyperwar, which OpanaPointer and I both suggested may be a little dry for a 9 year old, but will still be valuable to you.

    Hornfischer, covers logistics and the operational supply issues, but in an easy to understand, easy to read manner. His battle descriptions are also first rate. For instance, when Halsey sent in USS Washington and USS South Dakota, they were basically all our Navy had left to send in. I'd often wondered, "why didn't we use any of the old battleships?" We had lost a number at Pearl, but there were still a number left. Well, Hornfischer answered the question, Fleet Train. The "old" battleships had a higher fuel consumption and we lacked the tankers to keep them supplied if forward deployed. The "new/fast" battleships had longer range and were more economical steamers. Your son might be able to enjoy his stuff, he's at a tough age.

    If you don't mind my asking, what area of the country are you in? Some museum ships and museums are great teaching aids. When my boys were young, they used to beg every year to go to the Pensacola Naval Air Museum when we were in Florida.
    Check this out: Aircraft Galleries | National Naval Aviation Museum

    [​IMG]
    Aircraft carrier deck Pensacola Naval Air Museum. They also have a ton of large scale ship models that are amazing.

    Similar to this one in a Wisconsin Museum.
    [​IMG]

    1/72 scale USS Enterprise CV-6.
     
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  7. Frank Conry

    Frank Conry New Member

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    I found the Pacific Online Encyclopedia from you! Its a huge help, just trying to figure losses per batlle or, bettter aggregate numbers through time.

    We are in NH if you know of any museums naerby I'm all ears, I haven't found much. although there is a decommissioned destroyer (I think) in boston.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    There's a casualty table at Hyperwar. Fumbling around in Google may make it appear.
     
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    You have a large Naval Museum at Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA. It has a number of vessels, unfortunately several are highly modernized from their WWII era appearance, but also have the BB-59 USS Massachusetts (South Dakota Class battleship), SS-298 USS Lionfish, a Balao class submarine with combat service, and PT-617 apparently the only surviving 80' ELCO boat. The 80' ELCO is the most iconic PT boat type from WWII, they also have PT-796 a 78' Higgins boat, but it isn't in WWII configuration. They also have an LCM.
    Another good WWII movie, "PT 109":



    You have the American Heritage Museum in Stow, MA. They have a decent number of aircraft used in the Pacific (and a ton of WWII armor), P-40, F6F Hellcat, FM2 Wildcat (General Motors built F4F), a TBM Avenger, and P-38 Lightning.
    The American Heritage Museum

    Another good WWII, Pacific Theater, movie featuring an APA (Attack Transport) is "Away all Boats".
    Away All Boats 1956 Full Movie - YouTube

    It has a real good kamikaze attack scene starting at 1:22.

    A bit of trivia for you, when you see landing boats, LCP's, LCVP's, LCM's, LCP(R)'s you can tell their mother ship by the numbers on them. PA=an APA, KA=an AKA (Attack Cargo), LST (Landing Ship, Tank) then the ship number, then the boat number.

    [​IMG]

    APA-16 USS J. Franklin Bell, boat #9. You can look the ship up on NavSource and find out its history. You can actually date this to prior to February 1943 because that's when she converted from an AP to an APA and the raised coxswain position identifies it as an early LCV before they were superseded by the LCVP.
    Attack Transport APA-16 J Franklin Bell (navsource.org)

    [​IMG]

    APA-14 USS Hunter Liggett, boat #9. Hunter Ligget shipped 2 LCM's and 33 LCVP's. This is actually an LCV because of the raised coxswain position.
    Attack Transport APA-14 Hunter Liggett (navsource.org)

    NavSource's Main Page: NavSource Naval History - Photo Archive Main Index

    [​IMG]

    This is the LCVP constructed for the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. She portrays boat #21 of APA-33 USS Bayfield, which was at Normandy, the invasion of Southern France, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
    Attack Transport APA-33 Bayfield (navsource.org)

    [​IMG]
    APA-13 USS Joseph T. Dickman, boat #2, this is an LCM, it appears to be an LCM-3 which is the type they have at Battleship Cove. The US used the -2, -3 and -6 in WWII. The LCM-6 had an additional 6' section added in the middle.
    Attack Transport APA-13 Joseph T. Dickman (navsource.org)
     
  10. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    You can also show him some of the ships battle damage photos. It is really unbelievable that some of the ships survived their beatings, it also amply illustrates the severity of the fighting in the Solomons and later off Japan and Okinawa.

    USS New Orleans, CA (Cruiser)-32

    Taken after repairs for battle damage. Everything foreward of the #2 turret had been destroyed.

    [​IMG]

    After the Battle of Tassafaronga 30 Nov 1942. The full extent of the damage is not fully evident due to her being down heavily by the bow.

    [​IMG]

    Another view. The rounded structure extending up one level above the main deck and one level below the main deck is the barbette for the #2, triple 8" turret.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    USS Minneapolis CA-36, a sister ship to New Orleans, also damaged at Tassafaronga, 30 Nov 1942.

    [​IMG]
    Lost less of her bow than New Orleans, but still down by the bow significantly.

    [​IMG]

    Another view of the bow damage.

    [​IMG]
    Damage amidships, below the waterline. Number 2 fire room destroyed.
     
  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    FDR library has, literally, a ton of documents . . . most of the really good stuff is buried in the Map Room papers, which are here:

    Franklin D. Roosevelt, Papers as President: Map Room Papers, 1941-1945 | Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum

    It can get a little overwhelming, there is so much, but there is a plenty. For example, eight boxes of FDR to Churchill/Churchill to FDR correspondence or , better yet, maybe, Series 2 the Military File (just keep scrolling down, you'll get there) way too much to begin to describe. The only thing annoying (but you get used to it) is that most document files have the most recent on top so you have to keep paging down to find the start of a particular topic and then follow the trail back up.

    You can practice here . . . two files on that ice & sawdust carrier, the Habbakuk

    Box 162
    Naval Aide's Files (A1-1) Habbakuks (Floating Airdoromes for Asia Theatre), September 1-9, 1943
    http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/_resources/images/mr/mr0831.pdf

    Naval Aide's Files (A1-1) Habbakuks (Floating Airdoromes for Asia Theatre), July 1942-January 1945
    http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/_resources/images/mr/mr0832.pdf

    Not everything catalogued has been digitized so there are things that look like they would be really interesting to read, but you can't as they're not available on line. BUT most of the collection is digitized and documents download easily.

    And don't forget their photo collection
    Image Thumbnails | Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2022
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  13. Frank Conry

    Frank Conry New Member

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    Thank you guys so much! I'm going to take them to one of those museums next monday, I think the first you mentioned.

    In case it helps anyone I have found various sources for losses per battle all over. So for coral sea (which is next) here Midway is next, I found losses here

    To give him a bit of a rest we are going to chat about the state of things post Pearl Harbor then watch the documentary "Doolittle's Raiders" The raid brings up good questions about strategy vs morale. Correct me if I'm wrong but Doolittle had basically zero strategic value, but we needed to land a punch.

    Using those losses and the aircraft production numbers from The Pacific War Encyclopedia I think I can capture the balance of power in terms of naval/aircraft power.

    After Midway I'd like to watch another movie, Something exciting. Any recommendations? I think that after reading about, logging the losses and he is marking the battles on a map its ok to get something rock'em sock'em that'll get a boy excited so I was thinking about the 2019 midway movie

    After that we'll go into Gaudalcanal. I'm gonna rewatch the first episode or two of Pacific to see if I think he can handle it. Its so good, but intense. I havent planned beyond that. @USMCPrice Thanks so much for the advice and pics I'll show them to him today. and the FDR library is incredible, thank @R Leonard
     
  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Thank you for the kind words. An After-Action Report from the museum trip is requested.

    I stumbled across this page from the Combined Fleet website I recommended a while back. It may have some of the numbers you're seeking.

    Grim Economic Realities (combinedfleet.com)

    The two main guys that run the site were the authors of the book "Shattered Sword". IMHO, that book is required in order to understand the Battle of Midway.
     
  15. Frank Conry

    Frank Conry New Member

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    I think we'll so Battleship Cove in a couple weeks. I'll let you know how it goes. I bet he'll go nuts.

    I've mapped out all Carriers (CV) and Light Carriers (CVL) through the war and we're going to compare the balance of power that way. Also I can use the combined fleet link to get aircraft production throughout the war, which we'll graph as we make our way though it. But I am still looking for data on some other dimension of relative military strength like aggregate tonnage of naval battle fleet. Having trouble here.

    Also looking forward if anyone has recommendations for Guadalcanal if anyone has any.
     
  16. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    I see where the Grim Economics write up has been mentioned. Overall, Tony Tully's Combined Fleet site is a treasure trove of information especially as to the Japanese Navy
    The Imperial Japanese Navy Page | Nihon Kaigun

    mumble, mumble, still extracting data from USN officer losses reports (I track Navy pilot info just to keep busy, probably have, last count on 3/22/22, 50,545 aviators with 186,855 entries for same, but I know there's been some additions since then, . . . about 3.7 entries per individual . . . and that does not count another 2000 or so NAPs.)
     
  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Unfortunately, the USS the Sullivans has sunk. Hopefully, they can salvage it.

     

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