Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Was Hawaii ever truly in danger?

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by squidly the octopus, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. squidly the octopus

    squidly the octopus New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Florida
    Of being conquered by the Japanese, I mean. I've never been real clear on this question. Perhaps this is sort of an alternate history question, as it would require a different outcome at the Battle of Midway. Or would it? The best Japanese chance to occupy Oahu may have been on Dec. 7 '41, not in June of '42 subsequent to a Midway battle with a different outcome.

    Anyhow, let's say the USN was devastated at Midway, lost all 3 carriers, with 3 or 4 of the carriers of Kido Butai surviving, and Japan successfully occupied Midway (which would have been no small achievement by itself). Was Hawaii, Oahu specifically, truly in existential danger? Seems I picked up some historical narrative somewhere along the way that it would have been, and the Battle of Midway was in effect a battle to defend Hawaii, but I'm having a hard time seeing that. I do not believe the IJN of 1942 was capable of bagging an alerted Oahu - too much shore based air power on the US side - and I question whether Japan could have brought enough air power to bear, either ship borne or launched from Midway, to reduce Oahu enough for an invasion.

    However, the key word in all that was when I referred to an "alerted" Oahu..... had Japan brought along an invasion force on Dec. 7 '41, perhaps an occupation would have been possible. It would have been difficult for the IJN to support and resupply the occupation force across all that ocean, but it would have been equally difficult, probably moreso, for the USN of 1942 to mount a liberation of the Hawaiian islands - the USN of 1944 could have accomplished it. Of course a larger invasion force in Dec. 41 increases the chances of the element of surprise being lost. Truly they'd have needed a bigger word than audacious had Japan attempted such an operation.

    I'm new here and this is only my 2nd post. Maybe you all here have already asked and answered this question. But I see plenty of good discussion of Midway here so I figure this is up your alley.
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    25,338
    Likes Received:
    1,891
    Location:
    Finland
    DonĀ“t know about Midway but if the Japanese had been able to destroy all the fuel reserves in the Hawaii the US fleet could have been forced to move perhaps all the way to the American continent at that time. Not sure, but something I read about the Japanese attack and the possibilities.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,670
    Likes Received:
    2,212
    Location:
    Alabama
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    Destroying all or even a major portion of the oil sorage at PH would have been very difficult if not impossible for the Japanese. Consider also the Midway invasion force was a lot less than a division while Oahu had 3 divisions defending it and that's in 41. The Japanese would have also had a hard time maintaining the secrecy of the PH strike force if they sent an invasion force along with it. Indeed they might not even have had the oil to send an invasion force along with the battle force and the carriers to PH. Remember the Midway op used the equivalant of a year of peace time operations on it's own and the IJN started the war with 2 years reserve. The Midway op did use oil from the Dutch East Indies or even it may have been beyond Japan's capabilities. Consider also that if they go for an invasion of Oahu they are likely going to have to put off invasions of the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, the Philipines, etc. Which means no new oil sources in the near future.
     
  6. squidly the octopus

    squidly the octopus New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Florida
    Until I read this http://www.combinedfleet.com/pearlops.htm link you posted it never occurred to me to use the Wake Island invasion as a barometer for how other potential Japanese amphibious assaults might have gone. They may well have been defeated on the beaches at Midway (had they gotten that far), Oahu of course another question altogether.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    There is an appendix in Shattered Sword that examines the chances of a successful invasion of Midway given a fleet victory. They didn't rate the chance of success very high. Japanese doctrine was not to land on well defended beaches which is great unless you have to. I heartily recomend Shatered Sword by the way.
     
  8. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    4,753
    Likes Received:
    327
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    like lwd said, they didn't have the logistics...that's about it
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,719
    Likes Received:
    2,352
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Hawaii threatened by an American defeat at Midway?
    Short answer...No.

    For the plain reason that the Americans began literally dumping troops in Hawaii, not to mention vastly bolstering Hawaii's defenses. Japan's only bet would be the often debated "what if" of a December, 1941 invasion.(There are several umpteen page long threads over on AHF regarding this).

    Even if Japan, had taken Midway, the only bombers with the range to hit Hawaii were there H8K Emily(had just entered or was about to enter production, so only a handful were ready for combat) and H6K Mavis(approximately 212 total - in the entire Pacific). So, the bomber threat would be minimal, at best.

    Then, you have all the previously mentioned conditions about lack of logistics, lack of shipping bottoms, lack of troops, etc.

    Basically, an Oahu invasion sells books for Harry Turtledove, but, never enters the realm of realistic possibility.
     
  10. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    72
    Yes if Japan had completely given up occupying the Philippines, the DEI, Burma and the reason for the war in the first place. THe logistic support needed to do an invasion was probably beyond Japanese capacity.
     
  11. Dracula

    Dracula Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    28
    The G4M Betty could reach Hawaii and return to Midway.
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,719
    Likes Received:
    2,352
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Not carrying a bomb load.
     
  13. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,670
    Likes Received:
    2,212
    Location:
    Alabama
    That's kinda important,idnit?
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,719
    Likes Received:
    2,352
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Well, it would be in line with Yamamoto's first incarnation of his Pearl Harbor attack plan...Launching the planes from a distance that would be too far for them to return to the carriers.
     
  15. Dracula

    Dracula Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    28
    Apparently, Yamamoto wanted a do over in the middle of 1942. He was coming to Midway with the intent of taking and keeping Midway Island. By now, Midway's defenses had been augmented to many times it's prewar strength, plus the advantage of code breaking, and the concentration of the Pac Fleet carriers. What if Yamamoto had taken Midway in December of '41 when it's defensive forces were weaker than the forces on Wake Island? When the Pac Fleet only had 2 carriers available and they had to standby Hawaii, just in case the IJN returned for round 2.

    If you go with Takao's information that H6K Mavis amphibs could have reached Hawaii, with a 2,000 bomb load, then Hawaii was in danger. What would have happened if the Japanese had started night raids against Pearl or even worse the Port of Honolulu, which was the main entry point for imports, for the nearly half million population of Hawaii. Japanese bombs falling on American soil and hardly any way to stop it since the American arsenal did not have a night fighting capability this early in the war. It wouldn't have required a London blitz scale of operation to completely change the history of the early course of the war. No battle of the Coral Sea, no Doolittle Raid, no Midway gutting of the IJN, no Guadalcanal, and any carrier sortie West of the Hawaiian Islands would be in Indian country for hundreds of miles before getting within flying range of Midway and it's crowded airfield of long range bombers.

    Would the outcome of the war have been changed? No. Eventually the U S would outman , outgun, and out tech the Japanese. But I can see where the history of the first year of the war could have been changed.
     
  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,719
    Likes Received:
    2,352
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    PacFleet had 3 carriers available, Saratoga left the West Coast on 8 December, and arrived on the 15th.

    Concerning the H6K, I said that the threat was minimal. Japan only had 212 H6Ks, and Midway would be unable to accommodate all of them at once. Not to mention, they would need adequate supplies of bombs, fuel, and supplies. Then you would have to take into account wear and tear on the aircraft, fatigue on the crew, etc. Basically, there was no way Japan would be able to conduct a sustained bombing campaign against Oahu with the numbers of aircraft necessary to get the job done.

    Night bombing against Pearl and Honolulu? The British and Germans required far more aircraft than 212 to do the job. Because night bombing is, you know, inherently very inaccurate. And without accurate weather reports, you will have no idea what you will run into. When the Japanese, first night bombed Pearl with H8K Emilys, IIRC, it was covered by clouds, and the pilots bombed by dead reckoning. Of course, they completely missed the intended target and bombed a hillside...The Americans did not even know that they had been attacked until much later.

    Also, you would need to station aircraft at Midway to provide for it's defense, and there is only so much space on Sand & Eastern Islands.


    Yeah, it would have. Attacking by day, would have meant death for the H6Ks, and attacking at night, means most of your bombs are not hitting targets, ergo you will need a lot more bomber to achieve the necessary results.

    Again, you have the logistical factors necessary to keep even a minimal force of H6Ks in sustained operations.
     
  17. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    4,753
    Likes Received:
    327
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    let me add, what doomed a lot of Japanese aircraft at the Canal was the long distance to the target, and hampered operational aspects because less fuel over target area....same as Battle of Britain, advantage of bailing out/combat range/fuel for combat tactics goes to the home team.....you need multiple air strikes, with many aircraft, to put a port out of operation, just for a day or more...or even to make any significant damage
    attacks by amphib planes??
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,719
    Likes Received:
    2,352
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    The long distance at Guadalcanal was more a factor for the A6M Zero, D3A Val, and the B5N Kate...Planes that lacked a copilot, and did not have the long range of the larger bombers.(although, these aircraft did have longer ranges than their American counterparts).

    Bail outs were always a factor for both sides. Bailing out over the jungle or ocean, never guaranteed survival or rescue, even for the Americans. But, yes, it was worse for the Japanese, who lacked an adequate air-sea rescue plan, and, at least early in the battle, satellite airstrips where damaged aircraft could put down in an emergency.


    Yes. Why do you sound so surprised?
     
  19. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    180
    Location:
    The Land of the Noble Steed
    logistics we're definitely something Japanese did not have, and there is also the distance from other Japanese bases/ Japanese held islands. The nearest Japanese held island was Wake Island, it would have been a difficult task to keep supplying and supporting an invasion of Hawaii or Midway.
     
  20. Dracula

    Dracula Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    28
    A bombing campaign against Pearl and the Port of Honolulu would be more of a t v show Madmen operation than 8th air force bludgeoning of German cities in the later stages of the war. You don't even have to hit anything, just the uncontested ability too. The harbor entrances to Pearl and the port of Honolulu would be ridiculously easy to find, turn up the channel , wait three seconds, and then drop. You will hit something.
     

Share This Page