WI: American Gunther Prien?

donanton

Banned
At least in action rather than literal person. Trough the entirety of World War 2 American submarines operated with near immunity even near the Japanese mainland, managing to inflict devastating losses to the Japanese Merchant marine of 75%. What if during that period a daring American submarine commander decided to try his luck and raid Kure, Hiroshima, Truk or some other major Japanese ship base and repeat the feat of Gunther Prien at Scapa Flow? How can balance of power be affected by loss of a Shinano or a Kongo? What if Yamato met an ignoble end was sunk in harbor before it had a chance to lose the new ship smell? How well protected were Japanese harbors overall?

Edit: I am well aware of horrible problems aflicting Mk.14 Torpedo. For the sake of the argument let's ignore it, or luck is on the skippers side and majority of them explode where they're supposed to and not make a circle back to the submarine. Or the commander loaded up on Mk.10 instead.

Also bonus, would the Captain who did it continue his career as is or be relocated to training others, or be turned into a media star?
 
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Uh not exactly in harbor but Shinano was sunk while she was going from Yokosuka to Kure to finish fitting out OTL. Archerfish is one of the more famous US subs, but Enright is not that big of a deal, though admittedly the USN didn't know she existed and it was thought they sank an oilier for a time. Of course that was rather late in the war
 
I doubt it'd have much effect upon the course of the war, just like sinking Royal Oak (an aging R-class battleship not fit for front-line duties) didn't.

It's definitely get played up in the American media as a huge blow, however.
 

donanton

Banned
Uh not exactly in harbor but Shinano was sunk while she was going from Yokosuka to Kure to finish fitting out OTL. Archerfish is one of the more famous US subs, but Enright is not that big of a deal, though admittedly the USN didn't know she existed and it was thought they sank an oilier for a time. Of course that was rather late in the war
I doubt it'd have much effect upon the course of the war, just like sinking Royal Oak (an aging R-class battleship not fit for front-line duties) didn't.

It's definitely get played up in the American media as a huge blow, however.
Even in case of Yamato being sunk?
 
Even in case of Yamato being sunk?
Probably, the US had no idea how big Yamato actually was, thinking ~45,000 tons and 9 16" guns, as opposed to ~70,000 and 18.1" guns. Yamato fought basically one action, that had minimal effects, and then got slaughtered by air attack the next time she tried something. Sinking a battleship would be a propaganda coup, but nothing huge and nothing to change the balance of power, the only battleships the Japanese were willing to risk until '44 were the Kongo's and only two of four really saw combat. Admittedly if Yamamoto was aboard her when she goes down, and he often was to avoid the IJA assassinating him, that may be played up a lot more, but that's about him rather than the ship
 

donanton

Banned
Probably, the US had no idea how big Yamato actually was, thinking ~45,000 tons and 9 16" guns, as opposed to ~70,000 and 18.1" guns. Yamato fought basically one action, that had minimal effects, and then got slaughtered by air attack the next time she tried something. Sinking a battleship would be a propaganda coup, but nothing huge and nothing to change the balance of power, the only battleships the Japanese were willing to risk until '44 were the Kongo's and only two of four really saw combat. Admittedly if Yamamoto was aboard her when she goes down, and he often was to avoid the IJA assassinating him, that may be played up a lot more, but that's about him rather than the ship
I haven't heard about that, where could I read more on that topic?
 
Prien was lucky. He snuck into Scapa Flow and sank Royal Oak. Its effects were minimal. The Japanese didn't have a Scapa Flow.
 
Prien was lucky. He snuck into Scapa Flow and sank Royal Oak. Its effects were minimal. The Japanese didn't have a Scapa Flow.
Heck if Prien had shown up two days later the gap in the block ships which he took would have been sealed as the hulk which was going to be used as a block ship was already on the way. Not to mention Prien really rolled a natural 20 with the fact that all of his torpedoes worked as if 2 of them hadn't Royal Oak probably would have survived albeit she would have been in dockyard hands for months. As it was Prien's raid on Scapa Flow highlighted the flaws in Scapa Flow's defenses which were rather rapidly fixed.
 
It’s gotta have to happen during the dark months before the Doolittle raid. Getting into a port and sinking a cruiser, old dreadnought, or a couple escorts could be spun as “Vengeance for Pearl Harbor!” Likewise, setting it that early poses difficulties with the Mk XIV.
 
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It seems you’re more interested in the achievements than the man, but I wonder how the USN would’ve handled him. Prien died around March 1941, and British propaganda exploited the fact, just as German propaganda had exploited the “bull of Scapa Flow”. Though Germany was certainly aware of the pitfalls of mortal icons of valour — that’s why Hitler wouldn’t allow his name to be given to ships or aircraft — the US recognized the value of high-performing officers in training, leadership, and propaganda as something greater to the overall war effort than the value of a tally of air or sea victories by those risking a sudden death. So what would happen to an American Prien? And how would he take it, personally? The qualities that make a submarine captain sink 120,000 tons at Truk don’t make that man the type that wants a desk job or a PR assignment selling war bonds.
 

donanton

Banned
It seems you’re more interested in the achievements than the man, but I wonder how the USN would’ve handled him. Prien died around March 1941, and British propaganda exploited the fact, just as German propaganda had exploited the “bull of Scapa Flow”. Though Germany was certainly aware of the pitfalls of mortal icons of valour — that’s why Hitler wouldn’t allow his name to be given to ships or aircraft — the US recognized the value of high-performing officers in training, leadership, and propaganda as something greater to the overall war effort than the value of a tally of air or sea victories by those risking a sudden death. So what would happen to an American Prien? And how would he take it, personally? The qualities that make a submarine captain sink 120,000 tons at Truk don’t make that man the type that wants a desk job or a PR assignment selling war bonds.
That’s exactly what I’m interested in. Not the original Gunther but rather the American one, or at least as close as one can get to him. A man that would raid Truk or Kure and avenge Pearl a couple of weeks after it happened and lived to tell of it. I think he may be given a teaching role in Submarine command, a trainer for captains on aggressive submarine tactics. Or on the other hand he may be reprimanded for risking the lives of his crew and ship itself for a personal glory/revenge project. Japan itself would probably be enraged if it lost a Yamato to that, a ship built in utmost secrecy and at great cost lost before it had a chance to do anything. Historically Yamato didn’t do much due to a combination of factors but Japanese of 1941-42 didn’t know that and large expectations were set on the ship.
American submarines certainly had the firepower to take it down. For reference, 6 bow torpedos were rather common. 4 stern as well. German type VII had 4 bow and one stern torpedo tube.
 
Heck if Prien had shown up two days later the gap in the block ships which he took would have been sealed as the hulk which was going to be used as a block ship was already on the way. Not to mention Prien really rolled a natural 20 with the fact that all of his torpedoes worked as if 2 of them hadn't Royal Oak probably would have survived albeit she would have been in dockyard hands for months. As it was Prien's raid on Scapa Flow highlighted the flaws in Scapa Flow's defenses which were rather rapidly fixed.
Two other notes on Prien's feat:

LCdr Ewen Montagu (RN intelligence officer; progenitor of the Man Who Never Was) wrote in his memoir that immediately afterward, weekend leaves for Admiralty personnel started on Saturday afternoon rather than Friday forenoon.

As recently as the 1990s, there was a theater on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago (in the almost ghostly remains of "Germantown") which showed German-language films. One film that played there was U-47 - Gunther Prien - I saw the poster. It was I think a post-war production, made by Germans to celebrate (as it were) a not-dishonorable feat of arms (while I am sure studiously ignoring the context).
 
American sub sneaks into Hashirajima anchorage on June 8 1943. Fires a salvo at Mutsu. Faulty gyroscopes send the Mk14s in a loop back toward the sub. The sub is hit. The explosion is lost in the hubbub as Mutsu self immolates.
 
Warmer too. And possibly closer to civilisation than Scapa!
Warmer, yes. Closer to civilisation? Doubtful. If you wanted a Pacific Scapa, then you'd better looking at Manus, which was turned into one in 1944 by the Allies. It was apparently twice the size of Scapa. It contained the entire British Pacific Fleet in 1945 when they came a'callin'. Australia was intent on turning it into a Scapa Flow like anchorage but when the US Navy abondoned it, Canberra lost interest because of cost. They were seeking a ring of naval and land bases across the northern approaches to the continent in 1945 to prevent another 1941-42 occurring.
 
Gunther was pretty lucky that his torpedoes didn't decide to quite on him.
Both US and Germany had god awful torpedoes early in WW2.
 
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