Questions tagged [ww2-pacific-theater]

For questions relating to World War 2 around the Pacific Ocean, waged primarily between Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and their allied nations between 1939 and 1945.

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Is there anything to back up Mearsheimer's claims that Roosevelt pushed the Japanese to attack the United States and tried to get the US into WW2?

In this video at 1:20:05 (and a little bit of the part preceding it), Mearsheimer claims that Roosevelt "was deeply committed" to get the United States into the second world war and "...
18 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why did the Japanese attack the Aleutians at the same time as Midway?

Here's where I am starting from: Aleutians, Battle of Dutch Harbor - June 3–4, 1942. 2 smaller aircraft carriers. Main Midway battle. June 4-7. 4 big carriers, with 2 smaller that weren't right ...
-1 votes
2 answers
319 views

Why was IJN apparently inactive mid-war?

If you look at the history of the WW2 Pacific theatre, you would notice an apparent lack of Imperial Japanese Navy activity between Guadalcanal and Philippine Sea. And even these two battles were ...
9 votes
4 answers
2k views

Were B-17s (rather than B-29s) ever used to bomb mainland Japanese territory during WW2 (at least before the capture of Okinawa)?

I am wondering if B17s ever flew bombing raids against the Japanese mainland, and if so, did they do it before the capture of Okinawa, which was much closer than the previously captured islands like ...
5 votes
1 answer
315 views

Did Japanese officers refuse to engage in kamikaze attacks?

The Kamikaze is a military tactic that appeared officially in Japan's forces in 1944. This was used first by some officers, and then became more and more widespread. My understanding of the Japanese ...
-5 votes
2 answers
220 views

Initial Japanese success in WWII? [closed]

We all know about Pearl Harbor. But I’m curious how Imperial Japan managed to take Guam, Wake, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and China. The only reason I can think of to explain these conquests were ...
5 votes
2 answers
377 views

Did allied soldiers in the WWII Pacific Theater use the term 'flak' for anti-aircraft guns?

I just stumbled upon a clip from the movie 'Unbroken', where the crew of a bomber stationed in the Pacific refer to anti-aircraft fire as 'flak'. Flak, of course, is short for 'Flugabwehrkanone', the ...
0 votes
3 answers
830 views

What quality were Japanese troops in Japan in 1945?

Sources such as Basil Collier's "The Second World War: A Military History" list the Japanese forces during the war as being 6 million. My understanding is that the background of these troops ...
3 votes
0 answers
242 views

Were any Japanese defendants at the far east war criminal trials after WW2 IQ tested by the allies?

Since the Americans tested the IQ of the defendants of the Nuremberg trials I was wondering if there was an analogous deed done to the Japanese war criminals after the WW2. I can't find anything ...
8 votes
1 answer
392 views

During the defense of the home islands, what was Japan's plan for its forces off-island?

It's July 1945. Okinawa is lost. Japan is preparing for an Allied invasion of the Home Islands. While they're arming civilians with spears and clubs, Japan still had millions of soldiers in Manchuria, ...
8 votes
3 answers
876 views

Why were Japanese submarines not able to defend in the Battle of the Philippine Sea?

During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Japanese lost 2 fleet carriers due to actions by American submarines. Why were the Japanese not able to defend against such attacks, and why were the ...
40 votes
3 answers
11k views

Why couldn't Japan crack the Navajo Code in WW2, when they captured a Navajo native speaker?

All quotes come from r/askhistorians comment by User druidofdarrowdelf, but it doesn't answer my own questions. The Japanese captured a Navajo POW, Joe Kieyoomia, who wasn't part of the Code Talker ...
39 votes
9 answers
26k views

Why didn't Japan take Pearl Harbor when they had the chance?

Japan successfully wiped out America's defenses at Pearl Harbor, and they knew they were going to before they set out, so why didn't they take some paratroopers with them to seize the harbor from the ...
42 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why was capturing the south of Okinawa necessary?

The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest and most difficult of WW2. But, if I understand correctly, most of the casualties were incurred during the fighting for the southern part of the island. ...
4 votes
2 answers
715 views

Did the US really consider demonstrating the atomic bomb to the Japanese by "blowing the top" off of Mt. Fuji?

In reading this Washington Post article titled Five myths about the atomic bomb, it's mentioned: The decision to use nuclear weapons is usually presented as either/or: either drop the bomb or land on ...
2 votes
3 answers
359 views

What prompted Yamaguchi to split his airgroup when attacking the Americans at Midway?

This is a followup to a previous question here Why did the Hiryu perform two small attacks rather than a single larger one at the battle of Midway? As noted in Shattered Sword (Ch 14), Nagumo ordered ...
8 votes
1 answer
248 views

Did any of the Flying Tigers lead a US Navy squadron?

I came across a couple of passages on the Flying Tigers, mercenary armies and famous volunteers I saw how one pilot became an ace in Europe and another became a General in the 10th Air Force after ...
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

What were the Japanese defenses for an allied invasion of Kyushu?

At Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and other island bases of the Japanese forces, the Japanese created a network of deep tunnels and bunkers that made US attempts to evict Japanese forces extremely difficult, time ...
5 votes
3 answers
1k views

To what extent is the flora and fauna on Guadalcanal edible?

At the battle of Guadalcanal,, the initial wave of 11,000 Americans were stranded with something like two weeks' worth of food (five days worth of "landed" rations, nine days worth of ...
6 votes
1 answer
339 views

Why were the Marines so badly outnumbered at the critical point at Guadalcanal?

Prior to the battle of Guadalcanal,, the Americans had landed 11,000 men on the island in August, 1942. This compares to the 5,000 or so men that the Japanese had on the island by the first week of ...
9 votes
1 answer
345 views

How dangerous was it to be a coast watcher during the Pacific War?

The movie, South Pacific featured two "coast watchers" as heroes, the American, Lt. Joseph Cable, and the Frenchman, Emil de Becque, who observed, and reported on Japanese naval movements. ...
1 vote
1 answer
770 views

Did the 1st Marine Division use the M3 carbine on Okinawa?

I wanted to know if the 1st Marine Division used the M3 infrared sniper carbine on Okinawa during World War II.
6 votes
3 answers
472 views

What were Helfrich's orders for Doorman in 1942 prior to the Battle of the Java Sea, and did he comment on these in later life?

I've been trying to understand what went in prior to the Japanese invasion of Java. From my understanding thus far, Vice-Admiraal (Vice Admiral) Conrad Helfrich took command of the ABDA naval forces ...
5 votes
3 answers
628 views

What was the main purpose in Japan trying to capture the Dutch East Indies oil fields intact?

The Dutch East Indies campaign saw Japan try to capture the Dutch East Indies oilfields intact, i.e. before the local troops destroyed them: After these main objectives in Borneo were completed, the ...
42 votes
3 answers
8k views

In the Battle of the Coral Sea, how could two Japanese scouts grossly mis-identify two American ships?

I've been reading the Wikipedia pages about the Pacific theatre in WW2; in the page describing the battle of the Coral Sea there is the following passage: [...] the scout [from Shōkaku] confirmed ...
3 votes
2 answers
457 views

Did Midway provide the strategic opportunity Japan sought? [closed]

We all know that the Battle of Midway was a disaster for the Japanese Empire, and a turning point of the Pacific War. Events did not turn out as the IJN had hoped. But the result by no means was a ...
14 votes
1 answer
2k views

How many pens were used by MacArthur to end the final chapter of World War II and where are they now?

General Douglas MacArthur counter-signs the Japanese instrument of surrender as Supreme Allied Commander aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945. Standing behind him are Generals ...
26 votes
2 answers
13k views

Why is Thailand considered an Axis power in WWII?

I read a Wikipedia article about military history of Thailand and it left me a taste of anti-Thai bias. It is known that Thailand in 1940 (after the fall of Paris and establishment of Vichy ...
16 votes
4 answers
12k views

Were there reasons for Japan to go to war with the US aside from the US owning Philippines?

Right after the Spanish-American War in 1898, the US acquired the Philippines from Spain. At that time, local leaders desired Philippine independence. The Philippine - American War was fought around ...
6 votes
3 answers
3k views

How did Japan successfully conquer Vietnam (Southeast Asia) in WW2?

I've read the obvious wiki article (which is rather small), but did not really find an answer. At the end of the article, it says: To prepare for an invasion of the Dutch East Indies, some 140,000 ...
71 votes
5 answers
17k views

Why were Navajo code talkers used during WW2?

In history class, we are covering WW2. On the topic of code-talking, Native American language usage was mentioned, but nothing was said about cryptography. An online search did not come up with any ...
8 votes
4 answers
1k views

During the Second World War, did the Germans expect that Japan would declare war on Russia?

As I understand it, Germany did not make war with America on the condition that Japan joined the war against Russia. Was this because they thought that Japan would attack Russia anyway? If so, what ...
111 votes
7 answers
22k views

On 1941 Dec 7, could Japan have targeted the Panama Canal instead of Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack?

This question comes from a slightly related one. At the time of WW2, most US industry was on the East Coast, including all of the shipbuilding for Carriers and Battleships. If the Panama Canal went ...
1 vote
1 answer
219 views

Where was Mao Zedong during the Japanese surrender in Zhijiang (芷江) at the end of WWII in 1945?

Timeline for context: 9 August, 1945: atomic bomb on Nagasaki. 15 August: the Japanese announced their acceptance of the unconditional surrender (Potsdam Proclamation). 21-23 August: the Japanese ...
3 votes
2 answers
861 views

Why didn't the Japanese disbelieve (1) an unencrypted emergency and (2) a report in a captured code?

The Wikipedia page on Joseph Rochefort states: One of the Station HYPO staff, Jasper Holmes, had the idea of faking a failure of the water supply on Midway Island. He suggested using an unencrypted ...
2 votes
1 answer
370 views

What was a "cable station" in WW2 Pacific War?

I'm listening to Fluckey's "Thunder Below" about the USS Barb's exploits. He mentions a mission to shell a Japanese "cable station" in the Kuril Islands, but doesn't explain what it is for. He does ...
96 votes
12 answers
59k views

Why didn't Imperial Japan attack the Soviet Union during World War 2?

Japan and the Soviet Union shared a common border in Manchuria and the German invasion of the Soviet Union weakened the Soviets greatly. In view of the advantages to Japan in seeing the Soviet Union ...
3 votes
1 answer
985 views

What was the total megatonnage of all munitions expended in World War 2?

I'm wondering about the total megatonnage of all munitions expended during World War Two in all theaters. I've seen estimates of 2, 3 and 5, but no concrete cited sources for a specific number.
12 votes
4 answers
1k views

Why didn't the Japanese develop air defenses after the bombing of Tokyo?

So, I was reading some WWII questions, and a couple of them mentioned the bombing of Tokyo. I had never heard of it before, so I decided to read up on it. What I don't understand about it is Japan's ...
8 votes
3 answers
4k views

Who decided to confront the Japanese at Midway?

George Walsh (The Battle of Midway: Searching for the Truth) points out that Operation Plan 29-42 says Inflict maximum damage on enemy by employing strong attrition tactics. Do not accept such ...
7 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why did Japan fail to interfere with shipping from America to Vladivostok from 1941-1945?

Throughout World War II, the United States was able to supply Russia with food and many crucial war materials, such as aluminum, via Russia's Pacific port, Vladivostok. Japan steadfastedly refused to ...
6 votes
1 answer
579 views

What is the full text of the song about the failed battle of Kiska?

I came across a mention of the song about the failed battle of Kiska in the audiobook "The Rising Sun". I started googling, but found only two mentions, both on Google Books. Is there the full text of ...
3 votes
2 answers
292 views

How many men were lost on the USAT Arcata and was she loaded with troops when she was hit?

On the 14th of July 1942 the 2,722-ton US Army Troopship (USAT) Arcata was attacked and sunk by Japanese Submarine I-7 at 53-41N, 157-45W. The records that I could find show that this ship as a ...
2 votes
1 answer
645 views

At Pearl Harbor was a Japanese Third Wave of attack in the original plan or was Nagumo expected to improvise?

I was having an interesting conversation about Pearl Harbor and Japans third wave of attack which never occurred with David Thornley in the related question: Was the attack on Pearl Harbor totally ...
11 votes
2 answers
621 views

Why did General Billy Mitchell regard war with Japan as inevitable as early as 1912?

llama stated in Comments about General Billy Mitchell's observation from March 1912 after touring Russo Japanese War Battle Fields, "war between the United States and Japan is inevitable". @llama ...
1 vote
3 answers
1k views

What prevented the USS Franklin (CV-13) from sinking in March 1945?

The USS Franklin (CV-13) was hit really badly by bombs from Japanese airplanes during operations in support of the invasion of Okinawa on 19 March 1945. So what prevented her from sinking? One of ...
2 votes
1 answer
400 views

How many aircraft participated in each of the three waves against the Yamato?

I have been looking into Operation Ten-Go and noted something curious - nearly all online sources only list the number of planes for the first wave (280). But none really the makeup of the subsequent ...
23 votes
2 answers
5k views

Was Hiroshima targeted because its mountains would "rebound the explosion back into the city for more damage"?

In English class, while analyzing the anti-war themes of a book, my teacher brought up something that I had never heard before and honestly significantly doubt the accuracy of. She said that: ...
12 votes
1 answer
776 views

Did any civil resistence against the allied occupation of Japan exist?

I am looking for resistence against the allied occupation of Japan after the WWII. What I've found: There were soldiers, mainly on previously by Japan-occupied areas, who went into hiding after the ...
19 votes
6 answers
10k views

How was the USA able to win naval battles in the Pacific?

I have been researching the battles in the Pacific and it seems like in every engagement the USA was outnumbered or outgunned. Especially with the loss of the Pearl Harbor fleet, what made naval ...