Thirty Extra Feet: The History of the Pacific War, 1938-1944

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by loughery111, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. loughery111 Banned

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    Well, I finally decided to start a timeline. It's going to be done in the "excerpts of various historical texts" style, so it'll be bouncing around a bit between topics, and won't always be in chronological order. There will be references to events outside the Pacific, as needed, but I'm going to try to keep the focus there. If I prove able to write worth a damn, I might expand a bit into other areas and post-war history...

    I've always been somewhat intrigued by what-if scenarios involving an early start to WWII, for instance at the Munich Conference or, as ITTL, following the Panay Incident and the Rape of Nanjing. So this will be my take on the shape of a WWII that drags the United States in several years early, and with a focus on the Pacific.

    I'll release the first update tomorrow, a relatively short one. I'm going to try to stick to a weekly update schedule. Unfortunately, I'm going to be forced to do a lot of research on this as I go, and I've only got maybe the first year of the war outlined... so don't regard this as a promise, more of a guideline.

    Prelude​



    “It is increasingly clear that to deny the American people an opportunity to bring Japan to justice would cost President Roosevelt the 1940 election…” –New York Times editorial, February 20, 1938

    “It is the declaration of the Congress of the United States, on this day, the Third of March, 1938, that a state of war exists between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan.” –Public announcement of US Declaration of War, March 3, 1938

    “The Empire of Japan presents a threat that America and the world can no longer afford to ignore. Their actions in the taking of Nanking represent the most horrifying behavior seen in warfare since before America’s foundation. For this reason, and to protect both the people of China and Americans living within reach of Japan’s rapacious armies, Congress, at my request, has declared war on Japan. We fight to protect our familes and those of our brave allies, the Chinese, from conquest and murder at the hands of a ravening horde. May God have mercy on our souls and those of all who fight for freedom and justice.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address to the Nation, March 4, 1938




    10 points to whomever can guess the exact POD... the only hint you'll get is the first half of the thread title. Good luck. Comments or other feedback, anyone?
     
  2. trekchu Hangin' around since 2007

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    The US get in a twist over USS Panay?
     
  3. imperialaquila Aspiring Thru-Hiker

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    This will be...interesting. The Panay incident is my best guess, as well, but I don't see how "Thirty extra feet" fit into it.
     
  4. loughery111 Banned

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    Yea, the Panay Incident is the cause... the POD is a little more specific and does actually have something to do with the "thirty feet" thing. If it were easy, I wouldn't be giving out ten points to guess it! :D

    I'll tell everyone after the next update if no one's got it by tomorrow.
     
  5. trekchu Hangin' around since 2007

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    I don't think I am evil when saying that I have elsewhere read some fiction based on the Panay Incident (which was ironically the first time I ever heard anything about the particulars) and I can say I am looking forward to this.
     
  6. Seraph Well-Known Member

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    Casual reading of the incident on Wiki.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Panay_incident
    that lower military were all for a war with the United States and appears they did it on purpose while civilians felt immense shame for the incident.
     
  7. lothaw Texan Nationalist

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    Actually a Panay war would be a completely different scenario than OTL.

    Japan's government rightfully did claim they didn't authorize the attack and attempted to make it right. Assuming FDR shoots this down and asks Congress to declare war, it won't be the unanimious vote after Pearl Harbor. I'd assume it'd be a close thing with the Republicans and Southern Democrats against it.

    It also wouldn't be a war to the end like our Pacific War was. Seems the focus of this conflict would be over China rather than the Pacific. This could very well be seen by a majority of the American people as a conflict that doesn't concern then.

    You'd likely only see the US industry going at it half-heartedly too. So Japan may well be able to keep pace assuming they'll still be able to import oil from the neutral nations(Saudi Arabia, Persia and Mexico seem the most likely suppliers).

    You probably wouldn't see the British Empire or Dutch East Indies attack, though the Phillipines likely would be along with Guam and Wake.

    It would be an interesting scenario, and may even effect how things in Europe end up unfolding.
     
  8. loughery111 Banned

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    Yea, that's my understanding as well. I've got a few things feeding into the US declaration of war. It's still semi-ASB, but I hope to rehabilitate the TL by staying realistic afterwards.
     
  9. loughery111 Banned

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    From everything I've been able to find, the Japanese built in some plausible deniability, but US signals intelligence people intercepted and deciphered communications between the aircraft conducting the strike and their higher authority, suggesting that it had at least some approval from higher up. I'll be addressing the various others sooner or later.
     
  10. Justus_II Member

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    Should be very interesting, I read part of a thread on another board in a similar vein. Much riskier for Japan, they will still be fighting the US, but without the Southern Resource Area to gain for it. Both sides will also be more tied to the battleship/decisive battle doctrines, air power was gaining acceptance but still not seen as dominant.
     
  11. ChucK Y Well-Known Member

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    My guess: There was a distance of thirty feet from where the Panay was hit OTL to an impact point that would have hit something that would have blown up with much higher fatalities. It was hit there TTL.
     
  12. Seraph Well-Known Member

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    Reading FDR speech, I say it has to do more with Nanking
     
  13. Alratan Member

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    It's worth noting that whilst it's called the Panay incident, the Japanese also attacked HMS Ladybird during the same attack.

    If the US declares war over the incident, then I strongly suspect that the British would be dragged in as well, due to domestic political concerns of not wanting to be shown up by the US, and the strong desire of the British government to improve relations with the US in the run up to a feared European War.
     
  14. Julius Vogel So

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    If we assume that Britain and at least NZ and Australia were involved - probably Canada as well I guess, do you think a slightly earlier war would leave the Empire in a better or worse position?

    IT certainly could have some interesting effects - Canada for one would probably required to get a lot more involved in the Pacific, in a way that they didn't in the OTL Pacific War
     
  15. trekchu Hangin' around since 2007

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    In the other story I read the British remained US-Friendly neutrals, focused all their attention on Europe and once the US got in, the war was over in 1942 with IIRC Patton at the pre-war Polish-Soviet border.
     
  16. loughery111 Banned

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    Ah crap, you all expect me to think about Europe? Uh oh. :p

    Anyway, update time... as I said, short update today while I try to frantically build up a buffer for future releases.

    Part One

    Excerpt from: The Panay Attack and the Rape of Nanking, Jonathan Weaver, 1993

    It has long been clear that the sinking of the USS Panay was the immediate trigger for the Pacific War between the United States and Japan. What is only just coming to light, in documents declassified under the 50-year rule, is how close the incident came to being covered up or at least downplayed in the American media. The recent declassification of personal correspondence between President Roosevelt and Norman Alley of Universal News, in which the President urged Alley not to release the most inflammatory portions of his newsreels of the attack on the Panay, is perhaps the most important example. As we know, Alley refused the request, and Universal subsequently publicized footage of the Panay Attack and the Rape of Nanking across the nation. [1] One can only guess what the result might have been had these incidents been edited to seem less belligerent, or hidden from the American public entirely.

    In any case, by February of 1938 it was clear that the American public felt the Japanese provocation and its ongoing atrocities in China were a sufficient reason to declare war. The Roosevelt administration’s media counteroffensive, emphasizing the poor state of American military preparedness, had failed utterly in the face of the nationalist sentiment whipped up by the stream of footage coming out of Universal and other newsreel companies. Congress bowed to the inevitable, if only to remain in office, and war was declared on March 3rd, 1938. The House vote was a somewhat one-sided 308 to 121, but President Roosevelt faced a genuine battle in the Senate, squeaking by, in the end, with a mere 6 vote majority (50-44). Having declared war, the government then found itself obliged to pass the legal and regulatory framework to make a concerted war effort possible. Thus was born the “Military Appropriations Bill of 1938,” the “Selective Training and Service Act of 1938,” and a host of other bills, regulations, and appropriations.

    In total, the 75th Congress passed bills increasing military spending from roughly one billion to well over six billion dollars per year (roughly 65 billion in 1990 dollars), and laid the groundwork for the grand industrial mobilization that was to come later. Meanwhile, President Roosevelt began seeking…


    1. This is the exact POD. The line in the title comes from an anecdote I once heard, which had Alley later regretting the decision to redact the last thirty feet of film, which he believed to be most inflammatory. Here, he not only publicizes it but agrees to publicize as much of the Rape of Nanjing as he can get video for, and a few other bits.
     
  17. Gridley Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the POD is ASB, and while the US declaration of war is certainly unlikely, again I don't think it is ASB. I'll be watching this with interest.
     
  18. SilverSwimmer Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how this will effect the European war. The US will be less likely to join IMO, with the public arguing that they are already too involved in the Pacific to help the Allies in Britain. Unless of course there is a formal declaration by Germany. The idea of "unconditional surrender" and the tolerance for the extremely high casualties will also be gone, without something like Pearl Harbor. The Panay Incident would not cause Pearl Harbor levels of outrage, nor would the atrocities.

    Very interesting idea for a TL
     
  19. stevep Member

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    That sounds a bit wankish for the allies - but is something I could live with:D. Not sure how, given a war in the Pacific ongoing, the US would get in that much earlier, especially if Britain is neutral. If Britain and France both declared war, even if they did relatively little militarily, that would give a basis for a US dow when Poland is attacked.

    In terms of the suggested Pacific war both sides would be significantly weaker with less ships in service and development of areas, most especially carrier warfare. Presuming no other power gets involved it could be a tough struggle for the US. Japan will be able to concentrate it's strength against the US and possibly get the battle it wants in the region of the Philippines. Also it's not as deep into China and so will be less bogged down there. Will-power permitting the US will win in the end but there could be some heavy fighting and can't see it being resolved by nukes. Also, presuming no Soviet intervention it would probably require a bloody invasion of Japan.:eek: That would fit in with the 6 year OP duration for a Pacific war. If Britain also got involved, for whatever reason, the war should be shorter as more resources to throw into the mix and Malaya will be a lot safer with the Japanese not in a position to attack it, plus possibly both western powers intervening on the Chinese mainland.

    Presuming this doesn't butterfly the European war, unlikely but possible I suppose, then in the short term it could handicap the western powers. With America tooling up for war there won't be the spare capacity in US industries, so the investment Britain and France supplied OTL will have to go, at a somewhat slower rate, into their own industries. Possibly some economic boost because America and Japan are less competition economically and the fact of war should help loosen the purse strings a bit in the allies powers, although whether those extra funds would be used efficiently would be an interesting question.

    If Britain joins this early Pacific war it will mean losses and diversion of forces reducing it's impact in Europe. However it will also mean battle experience for some troops and an higher rate of production while the homeland is still at peace and secure - i.e. not impeded by blockade or blackout for instance. [Less certain about France getting involved but a similar effect if they do although, with a land border with Germany their likely to commit very little to the east, although base access and some light naval units would be useful as would diplomatic/economic support].

    However, presuming there is a European conflict and the US joins it earlier then an even partially tooled up US would have a huge difference. Especially if possibly in time to prevent a collapse of France although probably unlikely if the Ardennes attack still occurs. [Although without a number of butterflies unrelated to American military status the Germans could still come a nasty cropper there;)]. One oddity might be if the Pacific war triggers Britain and France, whether with or without US support, decides to stand up to Germany over the Sudatenland. Also, if their facing no threat from Japan how will Russia react to circumstances in Europe?

    For my own guess about the significance of the extra 30'. Either - forget it I see loughery111 has answered the point and I was way off.

    Steve
     
  20. stevep Member

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    loughery111

    Interesting POD. Rings a bell so might have heard of it before but had forgotten. Going to be intriguing to see how the US mobilises and how the two nations sudden war plans interact. Will Britain be joining in the fray? As you say the US is in a poor position to attack at this point and could well lose the Philippines but possibly not all the other island positions and could be some hefty battles in the region. Especially since when it gets the time the Atlantic fleet can be stripped to send more to the Pacific.

    Looking forward to seeing more.:)

    Steve