US Victory at Pearl Harbor

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Derek Jackson, Jul 21, 2006.

  1. Derek Jackson Member Monthly Donor

    Jan 15, 2004
    WI the decrypts had been understood properly and Pearl Harbor was a full alert. How much could Japan have been damaged in December 7?

    Assuming it is still clear that Japan started it would the US still be united in going to War?
  2. 1940LaSalle Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    Southern New Jersey
    The former, I'm not sure about (it's difficult to evaluate the tactical capabilities of Adm. Husband Kimmel, and how much he might have been hamstrung by the Secretaries of the Navy and War, given that war had not been declared).

    The latter, I think, would still hold since the mentality would essentially be that nobody attacks the US and gets away with it. Arthur Vandenberg wised up quickly and remained a force in the Senate after WW II; Gerald Nye didn't and became a footnote to history.
  3. Johnnyreb Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    It depends on the forces available and who gets the first strike in.

    How many American carriers will be in the area? Two or three? The Japanese strike was launched at extreme range - do the Americans manage to spot their fleet first?

    What was the number of American anti-shipping aircraft available on the airfields at Pearl? More importantly, were their crews any good at the job at that stage?

    We can assume the USN carriers will do their job, as all carrier boys have high training. We can also assume that an alert at Pearl will enable the P40s to get airborne and the AA to be ready. I don't think we can assume anything else. So it all depends on who sights whom first.
  4. Tom_B Member

    Jan 8, 2004
    Not For Want of a Nail

    Electric Joe once undertook to game this on the Nval Fiction Board but then had some second thoughts about some assumptions and never finished it.
  5. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

    Oct 4, 2005
    The problem might be how much warning Pearl Harbor receives.

    If it's a little much, say 6-8 hours, Kidd will try to sortie his ships, if one of the battleship were to sink in the channel, that would put the base out of action for months. The Japanese also had a couple of subs on patrol just in case a ship or two got out. If it's a couple of days Kimble will sortie the whole Fleet to seek out & engage the IJN. That would be a disaster. The Japanese would tear the old battleships apart without air cover, but no one understands that yet. That means the same ships are sunk, but this time in open ocean, where they can't be salvaged. That means Oldendorf's gun line isn't available for shore bombardment or to stop the Japanese surface force at Leyte Gulf. (Of course with two days warning, the Japanese probably won't launch the strike.)

    Now, if it's about three hours, that's ideal. You can get the alert to the fighters, scramble everything so it's not caught on the ground. The ships in the Harbor can get enough steam up so the powered equipment is on line, they can set full watertight status, and survive one or two torpedo hits without sinking (or turning turtle like the Oklahoma).

    The results of an attack with the defenses on full alert would be interesting. The U.S. had a lot of P-40's on the Island. They were outclassed by the Zeros, but bombers are meat on the table. It isn't unlikey that the Japanese could lose 1/3 of their airwing (perhaps more). the U.S. at least half of the fighters, easily more. Figure less than half the overall damage that occurred IOTL. No Battleship actually lost (excepting a miracle hit like occurred on the Arizona) and reduced damage to the remaining ships in harbor.

    The overall impact on the war is hard to gauge. The Japanese would probably be more cautious & the U.S. is likely to be overconfident. The end will still proably be in mid-late 1945 but it would not be hard to project an earlier end. It seems very likely that the course of the war, starting with Wake, would likly change.
  6. Johnnyreb Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    I'm interested in the idea of the battleships getting out as I didn't think of it first time around. Granted the Pennsylvania could never get out, it was in dry dock, what about the rest? Did the whole thing of Notice-to-steam still apply? If it did, how long would it take for all the battleships to get out? Granted, Nevada was reasonably ready. What about the rest? How long would it take to get up steam?

    Secondly, would it make a difference? The Japanese targets were the battleships. If they found them just outside Pearl, they wouldn't bother with Pearl, they'd go straight for the ships - see the Japanese raid on Columbo.

    What's more interesting is early warning to the B17s in the Phillipines. Brereton had them bombed up and ready to slag off the Japanese airfields in Taiwan. Historically, MacArthur couldn't be bothered to get out of bed and his staff told Brereton to de-bomb. The B17s were then destroyed on the ground by Japanese aircaft from Taiwan. With earlier warning, things might be different. But then again maybe not, knowing MacArthur - I am not a fan.
  7. The Mists Of Time Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    I don't think this changes a lot of things. We wouldn't have defeated Japan and ended WWII in the Pacific right then and there at Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor would be only one battle in World War II even if it is one The US had won in TTL.

    The bottom line in all this would still be the same. Japan attacked The United States, The United States declares war on Japan, Germany declares war on The United States, America enters WWII. Everything else would be pretty much as in OTL.
  8. Tony Williams Greybeard

    Nov 9, 2004
    I agree with your analysis, though I'd put the ideal time of warning at somewhat less than three hours. It normally took a battleship that long to get up steam, but they could get moving in half the time if they had to. One hour would be safer.

    Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and discussion forum
  9. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

    Jun 21, 2004
    Cheyenne WY
    one big difference would be the lack of the whole 'victory disease' thing in Japan... with a defeat at PH, they would still probably go ahead with their attacks on the ABDA areas (they still need the oil), but I can't see them striking at Midway or into the Indian ocean; I think they'd hunker down and rebuild their fleet...
  10. Michael B Doomfarer

    Dec 21, 2005
    Cair Paravel on the shores of the Shining Sea
    Once they have hit Taiwan, the B17s could be used to catch some of Japenses carriers. Sinking or crippling a couple of them will crimp Japanese operations, a sort of pre Midway.
  11. Torqumada Breast Man and urban legend

    Apr 2, 2004
    In a world not of my choosing
    I am not sure how effective B-17s would be against mobile targets like ships. I don't think their bomb sites are designed for that. Now, if the ships are anchored, they could be more effective.

  12. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    Just had a nasty thought. If the Japanese had a bloody nose against the US and lost a sizeable proportion of their fleet would Hitler have stayed neutral? That might have made it even more difficult getting the US into the European conflict with various groups arguing for fighting 'our war' in the Pacific.

  13. Kurt_Steiner That's a years supply!

    Oct 18, 2004
    Barcelona, Catalunya
    The B-17s were used against ships during Midway: no success.
  14. Redbeard Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Copenhagen , Denmark
    If the result is the the IJN suffering heavy losses among the carriers the Japanese will be seriously handicapped from the start, and the war in the Pacific over years ahead of OTL. I doubt if the Japanese even can gain a foothold in SEA - and without the natural resources there the Japanese steamroller will very quickly loose momentum - and anyway be short of the histiorical "victory extacy". I wonder if that will mean a collapse of the military regime in Japan by 1942 and a Japanese wish for a pease ASAP?

    If the result is just the USN Pacific Fleet battleships being spared I fear the USN have a disadvantage. In OTL the absence of most of the battlefleet after PH forced the USN to wholeheartedly adopt new thoughts on how to use carriers. Not new thoughts or doctrines but before OTL PH in constant rivalry with the BB school and usually being the junior partner. With the fleet intact there will be immense political pressure to start the offensive across the Pacific to come to the brescue of the PI immediately. The USN wasn't ready for that (which was known in at least military circles), but if the leaders yield to ill-considdered political pressure (seen before) the result could be disastrous. An ill-prepared US battlefleet with obsolescent doctrines would just be the dream scenario of the IJN and exactly what they had trained for.

    If some months (at least six) preparation time is given the fleet will at least logistically be able to perform the operation, but still be in great danger of suffering heavy and crippling losses.

    But actually I think too heavy USN losses will be a disadvantage to the Japanese - just setting off the badger like determination after PH to avenge the humiliation. The worst scenario for the US probably would be a limited defeat clearly revealing incompetence in own rows. That could lead to political fatalism and wanting to end the war ASAP. It would however also require a flexible Japanese diplomatic stance, which would in its own require a major PoD.


    Steffen Redbeard
  15. mattep74 Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2004
    Why not set the POD by having the radaroperators warning sounding like this

    "controll. we have a flight of planes coming in"

    controll answers B17s from the mainland

    now POD
    "SIr, how many are there becauce we have dozens of planes coming from due north"

    controll say the exakt number of planes and from what direction

    radaroperator say the number is higher

    Maybe then the aircrafts is scrambled. They dont get destroyed on the ground etc etc
  16. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    1) The B-17 was practically worthless against warships able to maneuver and shoot back.

    2) The IJN expected losing two or three carriers at Pearl Harbor. A major reason that Nagumo withdrew without making a final strike on the oil farm and other facilities was that he had achieved roughly 90% of his goal while paying practically nothing of what he feared. He asked himself, now aware that American carriers were in the area, if he should risk paying what he originally expected for the last 10% and decided to leave.
  17. MerryPrankster Gone Fishin' Donor

    Jan 10, 2004
    If the Japanese take losses at Pearl, the war might actually last a bit longer.

    No "victory disease" to make the Japanese foolish and overconfident.
  18. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

    Oct 4, 2005
    Actually the B-17 was designed to attack enemy shipping. They were envisioned to be "Flying Fortress" that would fly out and destroy enemy fleets before they reached America's shores. The B-17 was a direct result of the Billy Mitchell wing of the AAF becoming dominant.

    The B-17 A - D were not really heavily armed with defensive weapons, the tail Gunner and powered turrets tht we think of as standard on the aircraft didn't appear unitl the "E" model, while the remote chin turret wasn't installed until the "G" model.

    The irony is that the B-17, which would up being almost synonymous with thr strategic bombing of Europe, was initially designed to make it unnecessary for the United States to even become entangled in foreign wars.

    A second bit of irony is that, while the aircraft has, correctly, been lionized as a "Great Plane", it absolutely sucked at the mission it had been built to perform. At Midway, performing their designed role, the B-17's dropped tons of bombs, all they killed were fish. High Level bombing was quickly abandoned as impractical against ships in open water, the #$@#%^ ships didn't play fair and turned away from the falling bombs.
  19. Tony Williams Greybeard

    Nov 9, 2004
    Quite so - it wasn't the fault of the plane, but the tactic proved useless whoever tried it - until the Germans fielded the radio-controlled bombs.

    Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and discussion forum
  20. Johnnyreb Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    Level-flying bombing (perhaps not at high altitude) was not entirley useless. The Prince of Wales and the Repulse were sunk by a combination of medium level bombing and torpedoes.

    Besides, the line between dive-bombing and level-bombing sometimes got a bit blurred. Most layman think that dive-bombing was a steep swoop, followed by release and pull-out, like the Ju 87. In fact many used a very shallow dive, followed by an aimed release. The Royal Navy Skuas which sank the Konigsberg did that. So did the Luftwaffe specialist anti-shipping units' Ju 88s, which caused so much damage off Crete and against the Arctic convoys.

    I am not suggesting the B 17s go dive-bombing. The difference is, these crews were highly trained in anti-shipping work. The B17 crews were not, and such training cannot be given in two weeks. It took the RAF about a year to set up their Beaufighter/Mosquito anti-shipping wings.

    BTW, the IJN did not need to use carriers to get the raw materials Japan wanted. Malaya, the Phillipines and the Indonesian archipelago were seized by surface forces and land-based air. Only one IJN light carrier was in the sector: The fleet carriers were back in Japan getting their bottoms scraped or whatever carriers do when they're in port.

    It's true some fleet carriers went down there later, but the area was secured by then.