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What if the Japanese strike at Hickham and Pearl Harbor succeded but the one at Clark failed?

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by Falcon Jun, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    There's a book I have at home, written by one of the designers of the A6M, and the only way to meet the Navy's spec for range and maneuverability, was no armor, and no self sealing fuel tanks. The Japanese had a basic belief in man-to-man combat in the air.

    What Sakai talked about, was the mods they did at Lae, which was the removal of their radio equipment to save weight.
     
  2. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Thanks, Gromit801. Apparently, you have a better memory than I. Since you mentioned it, I think you're correct. Anyway, I did say aircraft, not fighters, for whatever that's worth.
    I'm right now searching for my copy of Sakai's book. I think it's time I read it again.
     
  3. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    So are you out of the hospital yet? I just read your post from 4/20/10. Hope that everything is going well so that you can get out to vote!
    If I remember the Sakai interview properly, he stated that if the Naval fighters were unable to achieve the necessary escort range from Formosa, Shokaku and Zuikaku were to support the P.I. invasion. Speak of another "What if...thread".
     
  4. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    hmmm... that would open up another can of worms.
    Theoretically, carriers are more vulnerable than land bases and a supposedly alert base would make a carrier based strike more vulnerable.
    What could have developed if theJapanese had to divert carriers for the PI air raid on Dec. 8? This would imply that there is a possibility that the hawaii carriers would be fewer. However, I doubt that the Japanese would send carriers to the PI. The japanese priority was the US carriers and Pacific Fleet. If the Japanese in Formosa were not able to extend the range of their aircraft for the PI raid, they would have found another way. Question is, what would that be?
     
  5. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    The Japanese would do what they historically did, by seizing airfields in northern Luzon at the beginning of the campaign and putting them to their own use.
     
  6. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    I agree that the Japanese would try to do that.

    However, if the Japanese in Formosa were unable to extend the range of their aircraft to effectively attack US airbases in the PI, then the US airpower would probably be stronger and in a better state to contest the Japanese landings and their attempts to seize airstrips for their use.

    With this in mind, the Japanese invasion would need air cover. And if air support from Formosa is not as effective as it was historically, the Japanese would have to strip some air assets from other areas and stage them from somewhere closer the Philippines.

    Off the top of my head, that would be either Singapore or in the Malay peninsula.

    This would be probably give US airpower in the PI some breathing space and manuevering room. Maybe just enough time for them to be withdrawn from the PI as an effective fighting unit.
     
  7. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    The Japanese also had a number of other aircraft carriers that were not being tasked for the Pearl Harbor Operation. They could have called on those other carriers to provide a stop gap measure of aerial support in the PI.
     
  8. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    The Japanese did have Ryujo available. However, she was tasked to support the campaign on Mindanao. I believe that the success of the air raids at Clark, Del Carmen and Iba on 8 DEC played a pivotal role in the S.E. Asia and S.W. Pacific
    campaigns. Only my opinion, of course.
     
  9. Glenn239

    Glenn239 Member

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    The original plan was to have the Ryujo, Zuiho and Taiyo (CVE) to embark an all-fighter compliment to provide fighters for the attack.
     
  10. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The Taiyo and her sisters Unyo and Chuyo were intended from the start primarily to be used as aircraft transports. Otherwise they were used as flight training carriers. The aircraft transport role was important as these ships allowed the Japanese to ship a fair quantity of aircraft in assembled condition to any point in their empire and even fly them off if necessary.
    Later in the war they came to be used more as ASW escort carriers as the war conditions began to crumble and protecting merchant shipping became increasingly important.
     
  11. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Good point. Now a question, how effective would these back up carriers be in launching that hypothetical strike at Clark if the Japanese aircraft in Formosa couldn't make the strike at the Philippines?
     
  12. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Given that combined they might be able to launch a carrier strike of about 150 aircraft at most (about 30 per ship) but realistically about 60 to 80 is more likely. This puts the teeth in the strike at about 40 to 50 dive bombers and special attack aircraft along with about 20 to 30 fighters.

    Given that the dive bombers and attack planes would be flying at lower altitudes one could expect heavier casualties even from just AA fire than was historical. The USAAF would still have problems with fighter combat due to the combination of poor high altitude performance of their planes and the lack of proper tactical training of their pilots (eg., using the wrong tactics versus the Japanese).
     
  13. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    The available CVL's were Hosho, Zuiho and Ryujo. About 90 aircraft, mixed. Ryujo was tasked to So. Phillipine operations support. The Zuiho was just coming out of a yard period. She would be assigned to the Covering Force for the returning PH strike. CVE Taiyo was still in her work up stages after conversion from Maru. She could transport aircraft for offload. She actually did transport aircraft to Formosa around 1 DEC 41. But, flyoffs and recovery? That might have been too dicey.
    This raises an interesting question though. What is the likelihood that the IJN is willing to retask Hosho and Zuiho from the covering force allocated to the returning Peral Harbor Strike Force? The P.H. Strike Force are low on fuel and supplies. Is it worth risking CVL redeployment south at the expense of the Main Strike Force? After all, the invasion of the Phillipines is an IJA bailiwick.
     
  14. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    If I read this right, this opens the possibility of the FEAF of inflicting more losses to Japanese aviation in the opening rounds of the conflict. However, the historical US problems of lack of .50 cal ammo and other shortcomings in the FEAF that were already posted earlier remain.

    Okay, hypothetically and best case would be the FEAF gets the jump on the Japanese and are able yo sink these back up carriers. this is highly unlikely.

    Worst case, the Japanese aircraft flying lower than they did historically and with fewer planes inflict more losses to the FEAF than they did historically. Again, I would say this is unlikely because FEAF antiaircraft fire would be more effective. These would have been manned already because the PI had the advantage of several hours warning.

    Now this is what I would say as the middle case or more likely scenario. With both strikes for the PH and PI based on carrier aircraft, it would be possible for them to be launched at the same time if all things are equal or as close as possible.
    If this is so, then there would be very little warning for the PI. And that would doom the FEAF to suffer the same fate as their counterparts in PH.

    However, there is a weak spot in using carriers for the PI raid. The Japanese ships in this strike force would be more vulnerable to being spotted. Would the Japanese risk this and jeopardize their PH strike force?
    I don't think so. And that's why the Japanese tried very hard to make sure their aircraft in Formosa can conduct the PI raid.

    Another question that comes to mind. Would there be enough fuel for the PH strike force? There were other Japanese naval ops and this would mean some of these would have been scrapped or scaled down. As was established in another thread here, the Japanese sorely lacked tanker ships for long term simultaneous naval ops.
     
  15. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Interesting question. The IJA and IJN did not see eye to eye and the IJN did cover up their Midway losses causing the IJA to miscalculate.

    However the PI attack would be in the opening round so it might be possible that the IJA and IJN might work together better.

    Since you did rightly point out that the PH strike force was low on fuel and supplies, the IJN must resupply and escort this force back to safety. Hence it would be a more prudent move to send the back up carriers to escort the IJN's base bound PH carriers.

    So this again opens up the question: with the IJN's carriers and naval aviation tied up in other ops, what other Japanese aerial assets could be committed to the PI if the Formosa based aircraft were unavailable?

    The only thing I can see is for the Japanese to delay their PI attack further.

    From the Japanese standpoint, the USAFFE is basically bound to the PI. They can't be use elsewhere. So too the FEAF.
    This would be free up more assets for the Japanese to use elsewhere thus making the Japanese attacks in other areas conclude earlier than historically.

    Would the US reinforce the PI if the Japanese basically ignored the PI in the opening round? I don't think so.

    The convoy in Pearl would still be diverted to Australia. What would probably happen is that the FEAF would be making flying leaps to be evacuated to Mindanao then maybe to Australia.

    Thus when the Japanese eventually attacks the PI in strength, the USAFFE would still not have enough air cover.
     
  16. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    It's a real dilemma for the Japanese. Do you go ahead without air control?Or delay until you do have control? Japanese doctrine seems to reflect the latter during their period of expansion.
    I don't suppose that you have tide tables for Lamon or the Lingayen?! If the Japanese are forced to delay the December landings until dominant air power becomes available and the tides are favorable again, that puts the invasion in the latter half of January '42.
    If that happens, everything changes.
     
  17. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Probably so. But how much of a change? Mac gains several days at least of breathing space. The US Pacific Fleet is still disoranized by the PH raid, thus the USAFFE is still effectively isolated and lacking more modern AA ammo and supplies. Worst case, I think Mac would have been encouraged by a delay to further bolster his attempt to destroy the IJA landings on the beaches. This would compound his problems later on when the IJA succeeds in breaking through the beaches. This would probably lead to an earlier US defeat.

    Best case, Mac uses the time to withdraw to Bataan with little Japanese harassment, meaning he gets the bulk of his supplies to the peninsula.

    This means the Japnese would have to devote more forces to the PI thus maybe reducing the Japanese pressure on other Allied areas.

    It does seem on paper that a Japanese air fumble in the PI can lead to interesting deviations in the time line.
     
  18. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    Mac may have gained more than a few days. The next neap tide and waxing moon is in late January '42. That is if the Japanese landings at Lingayen in December '41 are delayed. As I see it, the Phil-Am effort in '41 & '42 may have really screwed up the Japanese timetable for their SWPac plans.

    I agree that the deviations are interesting indeed. Tomorrow it's Memorial Day here in New Mexico. I'm going to do a moments pause in honor and memory of their sacrifice.
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    The most optimistic figures I've ever seen for the Japanese light carriers were about 48 planes for Ryujo, 30 for Zuiho, maybe 20 for Hosho; and they're not usually credited with even that many on operations in WWII. Nor were they fully equipped with current types: half Zuiho's fighters at Midway were still the old A5Ms (ditto for Shoho at Coral Sea); Ryujo carried B4Y torpedo biplanes on the Indian Ocean sortie in April 1942 (she had D3A dive bombers on other occasions) and Hosho still had them for Midway (eight planes total). So I don't see them making much of a contribution. Historically Ryujo was assigned to attack Davao where there was not expected to be any serious air opposition.

    I'm also a little puzzled by the suggestion that they would be needed to "cover" the return of the vastly more powerful Pearl Harbor striking force.
     
  20. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    I'm not that familiar with how the IJN PH task force withdrew from Hawaii. But off the top of my head, it seems logical to send a relief force with supplies to cover a force that has just expended its fuel and ammo.

    Nevarinemex, thanks for suggesting to look at the tidal conditions. I'll check that and add what I could find on the weather over Clark and Formosa, specifically on cloud cover and see how this could tie in on this Clark scenario.
     

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