180

So I want to know, did the Japanese Navy have the ability to destroy it in a surprise attack, let's say on 1941 Dec 7? I'm asking if the Japanese Navy had the ability. I'm not asking if it was a viable strategy or sound war plan. Well, you're getting both. :) Evaluating it as a war plan is WAY more interesting. Yes, but... It would be fixed in six months. ...


144

In WW2 we didn't have digital computers. We didn't even have transistors. Even vacuum tubes were state-of-the-art. If you wanted to do cryptography on the battlefield, you used something like this Enigma machine. Basically a fancy typewriter, it did all its encryption with gears and wires. If you wanted to send a message your radio operator had to check ...


81

There are two simple reasons they did not, besides "they couldn't" The "they couldn't" make the airborne assault with paratroopers is underscored by the fact that their longest range transport planes had ranges (one way) of at most 3300 km (about 1700 NM) so even on a one way trip they can't reach Hawaii. But the idea is dead in the ...


63

First, you need to remember that the US was expecting to use Okinawa as a military, naval and air base for at least two years. None of the commanders involved knew about the Manhattan Project. They were invading Okinawa in April 1945, expecting the invasion of Japan to start in November with an invasion of Kyushu, and the invasion of the largest Japanese ...


52

Mistaking the Sims for a cruiser is easy: a Sims-class destroyer has the same number of turrets (3) as the majority of American cruisers, while most American destroyers of the time had two, four, or five turrets. Without anything to provide a sense of scale, it's easy to mistake one for the other, particularly if you're not getting close enough to count the ...


50

The specific scenario of using paratroopers is a nonstarter. In addition to @KorvinStarmast's answer on why it's infeasible, Japan actually only had about 1,500 paratroopers. There simply wasn't enough of them to actually do anything, even if they could be transported to Hawaii. (For the rest of the post I'm treating "take Pearl Harbor" as taking Hawaii. ...


47

"The Code Book" of Simon Singh mentions several points why code talkers where so useful. Speed: One of the colonels in charge tried exactly that: code machine against Navajo code. The Navajo was able to talk in real-time, while the machine fall hopelessly behind - very important during tactical situations. Strength of code: The Navajos was one of the few ...


45

USA was outnumbered or outgunned only during the first year of war. After that they always had naval supremacy. While the number of ships was similar most battles were mostly ties (except for Midway). But once USA got material supremacy, they always had advantage (and the opposite is true as well). Even without the Midway battle USA would have won by brute ...


43

Japan successfully wiped out America's defenses at Pearl Harbor, The basic premise of your question is faulty: the American defenses weren't wiped out. Look at the list of what the Japanese hit (from Wikipedia): 4 battleships sunk 4 battleships damaged 2 other ships sunk 3 cruisers damaged 3 destroyers damaged 3 other ships damaged 188 aircraft destroyed ...


40

The Wikipedia entry on the atomic bombings cites a few sources that confirm this was indeed a criterion, among others (emphasis mine): In April 1945, Marshall asked Groves to nominate specific targets for bombing for final approval by himself and Stimson. [...] The Target Committee nominated five targets: Kokura, the site of one of Japan's largest munitions ...


26

There are some misconceptions in the question which need to be cleared up, and doing so will go some way towards answering the question as posed. The following is sourced from the official US military history of the operation which can be found online here:- Okinawa: The Last Battle (CMH 1993 ed.) Firstly, the specific purpose of the mission as ...


26

Misidentifying of ships from scout planes was a consistent problem for both sides in the Pacific Theater. In fact, it seems that getting a scouting report exactly right was more the exception rather than the rule. In particular, pilots appeared to have a distinct tendency to inflate the importance (or size) of the ships they were sighting. According to ...


25

The traditional historical narrative has been that the Aleutian attack, which happened a day earlier, was intended as a diversionary attack, hoping to spread American forces thinner, and thus make the Japanese fleet carrier concentration at Midway as devastating as possible. Parshall and Tully, operating from Japanese sources, have a different story. ...


23

The Americans were able to "play looser" than the Japanese, which was a major advantage. The fact that American "looseness" caused us to be outnumbered in many of the early battles hid the fact that American power was superior, especially in the air, as early as late 1942. Putting Midway aside, the Americans were able to engage the Japanese with inferior ...


23

One answer to this question lies in President Roosevelt's "day of infamy" speech. "Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night, Japanese forces attacked ...


19

Code talking in an obscure language puts two layers of encryption on the message. The first layer is that it's a language. The second is that it's a code. The code part is usually pretty simple with code words replacing the real words. The phrase "Omaha beach" is simple code. The place we called Omaha beach probably has an actual name in French or ...


18

The Canal is 8400 miles from Tokyo, compared to 4000 miles for Pearl Harbour. The Japanese carriers are stated of having a range of 10,000 miles at a cruising speed of about 16 knots, but remember that drag varies as the square of speed. Under battle conditions at speeds approaching 30 knots range would have shrunk to barely a quarter of that. For a ...


15

In addition to the points already raised by @TomAu and @DevSolar... The Pacific lend-lease route skirted the problem by officially being handled by the Soviets. Supervision and routing was handled by the Soviets. Cargo was loaded into Soviet flagged ships, many US ships were handed over to the Soviets. Since ships on the route might be inspected by the ...


15

Destroying those locks is going to be harder than you think. They are very large, at 110 feet x 1,050 feet, and the lock gates have to have been built to stand up to accidental collisions with large ships (at low speed, admittedly). They weigh up to 730 tons, depending on their height. The best way to make the attack seems to be to use anti-ship torpedoes ...


15

I have in my backpack my shiny new xmas present, Shattered Sword, by Parshall and Tully. It mostly covers the Japanese side of things, and I'm barely into it, but the forward by John Lundstrom (who was the recipient of the first and most profuse of the authors' acknowledgements) credits the aggressive deployment decisions at both Coral Sea and Midway fully ...


15

Tropical environments like Guadalcanal are rather abundant with food, if you know enough to find it. That of course is the key. That generally requires native knowledge, gathered through generations of observation and (often dangerous) trial-and-error. But there is a limit. Hunting and gathering just doesn't support as many people for the same acreage as ...


13

Canal locks may be much harder to destroy than you think. Ships can catch fire and they can sink. Canal locks won't do either. As kind-of-evidence for this assertion, consider the St. Nazaire Raid. The Allies decided that they'd have to ram the gates of a dry dock with an explosives-filled destroyer. At the time, they had much heavier aviation at their ...


13

The Thais had a puppet government that followed the will of the Japanese (such as declaring war on the Allies). That made them nominally, at least, an Axis power. Also, Thailand allowed its territory to be used by the Japanese as a springboard for their invasions of Burma (Myanmar) and the East Indies (modern Indonesia). Even so, Thailand contributed few ...


13

I'd like to provide an alternative explanation that addresses the question of, "How could two independent reports contain exactly the same mistakes?", which isn't specific to this battle, but would apply here: The consequences of strict hierarchical rigidity in Japanese culture and an emphasis on conformity. This is an alternative (but not ...


12

The Tripartite Pact explicitly excluded Russia; thus, given the The Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact, it is hard to imagine that Hitler expected a Japanese attack on Russia. Hitler thought that Russia was, for all practical purposes, already defeated; he declared war on the US saying that for all intents and purposes they are already fighting - this just ...


12

Firstly, there is nothing 'foolish' about it. Military planning is about contingencies. The Japanese listening stations had received a report, they forwarded that report using a code they believed to be secure, and the planners modified their plans for the attack on Midway to deal with the contingency that it may have been true. The Japanese believed ...


12

"US" and "consider" are rather broad terms. I can't find any evidence that the Manhattan Project targeting committee ever considered anything other than conventional military targets, but there were plenty of other people throwing out ideas of what should be hit. A rather informal analysis of "blowing the top off a mountain" ...


11

The standard Japanese defense plan was in place for opposing Olympic. While the bunkers might not have the complexity of Iwo Jima's due to different geology on Kyushu, they would have been tough enough. The two aspects that were being explored that were unique to this invasion was the planning to deploy small Tokko boats (Kamikaze boats with explosives) to ...


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