...Those Marvelous Tin Fish: The Great Torpedo Scandal Avoided

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by DaveJ576, Jan 15, 2018.

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  1. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Good question...^1

    I wish I had a good realistic answer.

    (^^^) was the state of USN open declared knowledge before Pearl Harbor. I would be accused of hand-wavium if I simply said the Treaty Faction demanded a vigorous naval air service and aircraft carrier program based on...

    ^1
    The usefulness of the Akagi and Kaga in those air operations was enough to give added impetus to the acceleration for the planned additional flattops within the IJN. Maybe it can be argued that the IJN gun-club within IGHQ is peremptorily overruled by the otherwise anti-navy Yamato spirit happy IJA, who somehow are made to understand in battle that a lot of aircraft carriers cruising off the coast of China are a "good idea" for when their own 無能な征服幸せな将軍 (incompetent conquest happy generals) (mi-noh ah shez chi ama na cho-sen) bungle their way into a Nationalist Chinese campaign and become in imminent danger of a massive defeat like what almost occured outside Shanghai?

    Frankly that is the best I can come up with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  2. NORGCO Well-Known Member

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    Are we supposed to understand that the articles quoted, in particular the one from January 1941 issue of Flying and Popular Aviation, are the reason that Japan's opponents were steamrollered in the actual shooting war?

    Accounts I have read/heard from people who were there at the time - some of my high school teachers for example - tend to state that the Japanese had been dismissed as inherently racially inferior pilots flying badly made obsolete junk. This article reads like exactly the sort of material that led people in Western military's in Asia to dismiss the Japanese out of hand with racist stereotypes involving Japanese pilots squinting out at the world through 'Coke bottle thick glasses'.

    That Spitfires flown by Battle of Britain veterans were being eaten alive by IJN pilots in Zero's came as quite a shock. I think it was one of my maths teachers who said that to me.

    Or of course I may have missed the entire point of your post. It would not be the first time
     
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  3. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    I think that would be a misinterpretation of my intent if one reads the article that way. So let me very plainly state my intent. The article shows to me at least that the Japanese were not the only nation filled with people who were completely out of touch with reality. A whole generation of many Americans was not paying close attention to actual ground truth or making the proper weltanschauung (philosophical or world view adjustments) to conform with and prepare for that ground truth as it existed.

    It often takes two groups of people who are completely delusional to stumble eyes wide open into a war. The lesson learned from this example is to never underestimate the desperation, clumsiness, and inept resourcefulness to do it the wrong way of highly motivated human beings who think they are backed into a corner. If both sides think that they are so being pushed and misjudge the other's will and resolve to not adjust, then bad things start to happen far sooner than they expect or are prepared.

    I suppose that sounds a little Neville Chamberlainish of me, but I often feet sorry for that poor little man who had a more realistic view of world events and consequences than many of his compeers and yet today is derided as an appeaser of the Berlin maniac, when he was only trying to buy another year for his RAF to get ready. Try to put yourself with your present knowledge of the past reality in Cordell Hull's shoes and advise Roosevelt differently about the Japanese than he actually did, or be Admiral James Otto Richardson who had a very grim sour pessimistic realistic view of just what ground truth is in 1941 as he locked horns with the stubborn FDR and warned him repeatedly about such things as viable IJN strike sortie radii and the acute vulnerability of the then current USN to the IJN air attack and its own unreadiness to execute ORANGE. J. O. Richardson wanted to buy the USN another year for the Two Ocean Program to bear first fruits. He was cashiered instead.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  4. NORGCO Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the clarification.
     
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  5. AJE Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps, but a year of preparation works for both sides. Both sides are chasing a moving target of enemy readiness. Even OTL the IJN only got torpedoes that could work at Pearl Harbor at the last minute, and almost didn't get them at all if it weren't for a single factory manager. To make the torpedo modifications for shallow water, he authorized overtime which was officially prohibited, but he guessed correctly that it was important and his superiors would stand by the decision later. It's not like the Japanese had their war plan perfected for months; they had to rush things to get there.
     
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  6. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Quite true. But there is getting ready and there is getting ready.

    It can be argued specifically in the American case, that RTL, more oil tankers would be ready, a core SAG of fast battleships (2 North Carolinas and 4 South Dakotas) and 1 Essex Class would have been ready (Essex) and 3 Independence Class plus about 100 other warships of all types. As an example, there was a sandflat on the Massachussetts coast near Boston in Cohassett, which went from bare shoreline to full shipyard from January 1942 to May 1942. By August 1942 they were churning out LSTs and DEs at the rate of 1 every 600-800 hours or about 25 -33 days from 10 slips, one ship per slip. First 8 months of operation that was about 65-70 ships. They employed about 20,000 people in three 8 hour shifts. In the immediate Boston area was the Boston Navy Yard and at Quincy there was the Fore River Shipyard with another 78,000 people combined with a dozen large slips and 3 drydocks churning out hulls like sausages. Together, it was about another 100 ships of all varieties from those yards in the first year. Fore River was a rather major yard churning out Essex flattops. Five of them, if I remember correctly. By contrast Kure, Yokusuka and Sasebo together only produced half that many total ships in their year of operation. Add Norfolk, New York (Brooklyn), Newport News, Bremerton and I guess San Diego and that year sinks Japan if she tries Pearl. And let's not forget the subs... And that does not include the Kaiser Program, either.
     
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  7. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    It's fairly staggering to read the mish-mash of fairly accurate information (limited IJN/IJA pilot training capability, though still understated) and wildly inaccurate (IJN air strength, carrier capacity, and front-line pilot quality).

    Granted that there was no internet, but...

    But something that has come through in sources used by the best secondary source treatments is how much the U.S. officer corps right up until December 7, 1941 tended to underestimated the Japanese as second stringers. Some of that was lack of useful interaction, some simply lack of data (Japan was not the poster boy for transparency), and some just flat out racism. And anyway, who had the Japanese beaten, anyway? A corrupt and moribund Tsarist empire, and an even more corrupt and moribund China (twice, sort of) - no top shelf competition.

    And this was a key reason why Pearl Harbor and the rapid Japanese conquest of every American and European force in the Far East in record time came as such a shock. It was a failure of imagination. Deep down, many simply did not think the Japanese could *do* it.

    And then there's this, which I could not help but laugh at:

    This looks more like American solipsism, straight up. The Brit decks had been in combat for almost a year and a half by this point.

    But American officers were all thinking big blue water naval campaigns over the vast stretches of the Pacific - and for that kind of war, the Yorktown class *was* better suited, overall. But British carriers weren't designed for that kind of war. They had to survive the confined (and land-based air dominated) waters of the ETO, where Yankee lack of armored flight decks would have been a lot more exciting to try.

    Well, that was a fun read. Thanks for sharing.
     
  8. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    As blame for the disaster of appeasement goes, people really ought to shovel more Baldwin's way than Chamberlain's. By the time the latter came to power in 1937, the British (and French) were already a couple years behind the Reich, and having to play catchup - and the mood of the electorate and the Commons was fairly against rearmament to boot (which is why Labour had no leg whatsoever to stand on in its later attacks on the Guilty Men).

    But Chamberlain can't get off so easily, because the extra year gained by Munich benefited Hitler more than it did Britain and France in terms of rearmament (and, uh, the obliteration of 35 Czechoslovak divisions sitting on a first-rate fortification line), and more to the point, there were senior British statesmen (Churchill, Duff, Adams, Eden, etc.) who actually appreciated this difficulty at the time.

    Your point in Richardson is dead on target, however. FDR's sacking of him sent a loud message to the U.S. Navy leadership. The results were calamitous.
     
  9. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    One has to remember that the Americans were not the only ones who badly underestimated the Japanese. Sir Tom Phillips was deputy director of plans for the RN during the critical last three years before the second world war kicked off. Granted he inherited guidance from Pound but he was getting warnings from British east Asian naval attaches at British consulates about what the IJN was doing with their Rikkos and flattops. Did he suggest anything to modify the "Two Power Standard/One and a half War" model that the RN operated upon?

    Those Chinese...

    Short version... The Battle of the Yalu River is very instructive. Philo Norton McGiffin was one of those "Chinese" who was defeated by the Japanese. He managed to get back to the United States and he gave the 1895 USN an earful about the Japanese. That was why everyone except the USN was shocked by the Russo Japanese War.

    Theodore Roosevelt listened to Philo Norton McGiffin give a lecture on the Yalu disaster, which is why he made it a point to make sure Manila was heavily fortified and why "the Great White Fleet" made an unusual number of port calls upon Japan in their round the world in 16 battleships sojourn.

    Well... that is the usual featured part of it, but there is far more to what is going on in the controversy. Everyone seems to argue armored versus wooden flight decks, but that is not what the Americans (or the British) really think about the aircraft carrier issue in 1939.

    The basic problem with aircraft carrier warfare is that before radar, the aircraft carrier is a floating fuel and ammo dump, easily dedecked and very easy to mission kill. Whether USS Franklin or HMS Indomitable, this actually proves to be the case. It is almost impossible to defend an aircraft carrier before radar, except by standing CAP, which is what the Japanese tried at Coral Sea and Midway, with predictable disastrous results.

    The operational art heart is to prevent being hit in the first place. The British realized this tactical answer but like the Japanese and the Americans, before radar, they could only see three ways to solve the problem, armor up, trust to AAA and find them and sink them first. Well as to armor up... The British used own capability to define the armor limit, which in this case was a fleet air arm ability to dive bomb with a 250 kg bomb. What happened to indomitable that sent her to the US for almost a year of rebuilding? A Stuka hit her with a 500 kg bomb. Kaput. OOPs. RIKKO; Luftwaffe style.



    AAA and armored decks are not enough. What else is there? Airborne interception of course.

    That means FIGHTERS and when the Americans finally get ones of their own, RADAR and the close integration of one to ground control intercept on the threat vector (GCI) with the other tool.



    The Japanese get fighters profoundly right entirely by accident because of China and the ROCAF which puts up one hell of a fight; but they never develop air intercept stratagems to make the various systems all work together until 1944. You will see what happens at Santa Cruz when THEY get to play with RADAR. It came as a shock to me when I wargamed it out. It ain't pretty.

    I should point out these are lessons learned by everybody. For example, the British RN was so much better at reconnaissance and the use of radar than the USN before the 1942 aircraft carrier battles it was ridiculous, but it did not do them any good in their one serious attempt to fight their one single aircraft carrier battle of WW II in the Indian Ocean in April off Sri Lanka when they had controlled intercept methodology, shore based air support and that huge radar advantage. It takes actual combat practice to wield naval airpower against an enemy navy properly. They had not practiced enough. Neither had the USN, really, but if you survive a couple of defeats, (Coral Sea and one can seriously argue Midway at the tactical op-art level.) one learns fast.

    As I understand it and you can check me on it, all three players had bits and pieces of the puzzle by 1939, but it is not until post-war op analysis of Okinawa and the kamikaze campaign that it all comes together with the massive British innovations of Japanese deck trapping systems, American deck handling and plane parking, the angled flight deck (^^^ see America's clumsy 1930 first tries?) and in war learned fighter director methods that both British and the Americans begin to rebuild their aircraft carrier fleets and adopt the onion-layer defense that results of the outer and inner air battle zones which come from it. Fighters, radar pickets, radar directed intercept for the outer air battle, body guard AAA and ASW ships for the inner battle and most important for survival; long range standoff reconnaissance to find and kill the enemy before he finds you and hits your ships first. Always that important first requirement.

    Baldwin always gave me heartburn, but on a whole front of issues that have no place for discussion here. Let us just say I wholeheartedly agree with what you point out and move forward?

    It depends. Could the Wallies afford a Germano-Soviet alliance? I would not put it past the two dictators to help each other in 1938 openly as they actually were under the table doing prior. The Moscow madman was playing all sides Halma and it would fit his cynical game plan to have "You and him fight and I'll be your corner man, until he drops you and then I'll come in"... and carve up the loser^1. Just food for thought.

    Does not help all that much, post facto. I hope I illustrate in my ITTL contributions, here, that a lot of the same politics still handicap the "senior service" despite the fact that they are in a shooting war?

    ^1 And the winner.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  10. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Fair. I won't argue this save at the margins. Each navy DID have a steep, steep learning curve with carrier warfare - not just with working out how to defend them, but how to keep them from sinking once hit!

    That said: If I'm building carriers expected to spend nearly all their time in the ETO, I still think...I still think I'd rather have armored flight decks. Helps you only at the margins, sure, but... Perhaps I should say: it was not unreasonable, I think, for the RN and USN to make the choices they did pre-war in view of the geographical contexts in which each was thinking, and what they knew and did not know yet about operating carriers...

    They really couldn't, of course; but it's also true that a Western-Soviet alliance was there to be had in 1938, and this was both reflected and caused at the same time by Litvinov being Stalin's foreign minister. The Czechs had a relationship with Moscow whereas the Poles had...well, a blood feud. This also made them more sympathetic to that Western alliance in '38.

    The problem was, Chamberlain definitely did NOT want such an alliance, and he made that fairly clear throughout that period, not least in how he hamstrung the mission he finally did send to Moscow. There's a decisive shift in Stalin's attitude by the spring of 1939, and it is marked by the replacement of Litvinov by Molotov. Stalin had given up on London and Paris.

    I really do think that Churchill was right: the fall of 1938 was a better time to fight Hitler than the fall of 1939. Chamberlain was not wrong to want to the fruits of another year of rearmament for the RAF; he just did not understand what he would be giving up to get it.

    Thanks (as always) for the amazingly thoughtful and informative reply.
     
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  11. AJE Well-Known Member

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    This part of the thread reminds me of Admiral Piett's posts back when I was on the Eugen Forums. I wish I had read them more closely, I would probably know a lot more about this than I do now.
     
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  12. Dreadpool Well-Known Member

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    If you want to go a long way towards heading off the nascent 'Torpedo Mafia', have something VERY bad happen to one Theodore F. Green....
     
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  13. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Theodore F. Green^1 ... Had partners in crime... Felix Herbert and Peter G. Gerry who preceded him and/or served alongside. Jesse H. Metcalf who was immediately ahead of that crook, Green, did not help with torpedo development either. All of them on the Senate side fought to retain Rhode Island's torpedo station monopoly. On the House side; there were more crooks; Francis B. Condon, John Mathew O'Connell, Charles Risk, Aime Forand and Harry Sandager.
    Francis B. Condon (D) John Matthew O'Connell (D)


    Theordore Green; Senator^1 from Rhode Island has been mentioned. This _____ showed his true colors in action when he became governor of Rhode Island in 1932.^1

    ^1 Robbery of the state treasury, ballot stuffing, Wilsonian power-lust shenanigans,

    and other assorted Tomfoolery.

    The British expert thought he was a dim-bulb, but a bit of an "all right fellow".

    Another interesting example of where Sir Isaiah Berlin gets it wrong is Elbert D. Thomas. The man was indeed a farm bloc Mormon, an expert on Japan... and an Anglophobe who wanted the death of the British Empire more fervently than Roosevelt did. He got his way. Berlin also dangerously misreads US Senate attitudes toward British interests as in severely underestimates where the majority of isolationists and internationalists in that body agreed... Britain was to be supplanted. There was a strong uniform nationalist streak in that cohort that Berlin completely misses that goes way beyond their local state interests.

    No criticism implied here. It just is how it all RTL turned out. Truman and Eisenhower could not have done what they did, if the Senate opposed them. It was very monobloc from 1945-1957.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  14. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    It's sad to see how congressional appropriations for certain federal agencies haven't really changed at all in this respect.
     
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  15. rob2001 Well-Known Member

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    Since the Battle of Santa Cruz has been posted, I thought you might want to know that the wreck of the U.S.S. Hornet CV-8, has been discovered, and several pictures of the wreck have posted on certain Facebook pages.
     
  16. formion Well-Known Member

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  17. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    "If you go down to my locker, there's forty bucks in it. You can have it."
     
  18. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Just to be clear, I'm still writing the battle narrative and trying to make everything fit together. It is a little messy in the current draft.
     
  19. rob2001 Well-Known Member

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    I didn't mean anything by my post, I just thought I would post it here, because you had started talking about the battle. Both the pictures and the sonar scan of the wreck were really interesting.
     
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  20. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Hey, I'm glad you posted. The more the merrier. I just hope I do the Lady H justice in the narrative. And I'm glad people posted about her discovery, before I got to it.
     
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