WI: Japanese target Pearl harbors fuel storage tanks, USN submarines and administration buidlings?

What if besides targeting the larger capital ships at Pearl, the Japanese pilots are also instructed to hit the fuel storage, USN submarines and key USN administration buildings? How setback would the US war effort be?
 
What if besides targeting the larger capital ships at Pearl, the Japanese pilots are also instructed to hit the fuel storage, USN submarines and key USN administration buildings? How setback would the US war effort be?
I wonder if any of the major USN warships that were sunk or badly damaged in our time line would be either undamaged or perhaps only lightly damaged as a result ?
 
Well we've gone over on more threads than I care to count that the bunker fuel is a much tougher target than is generally appreciated.

Submarines - there were only four on that day in port, https://visitpearlharbor.org/pearl-harbor-ships-on-december-7th/

In terms of hitting shore targets - there are so many and how good was their intelligence on what would be the best buildings to hit and which ones were not all that relevant? There is no magic set of five or six targets where you get those and the Pacific Fleet is operating out of San Diego for the near future. To do serious damage to the base and keep it down will require a sustained campaign, not a one off raid.
 

nbcman

Donor
Well we've gone over on more threads than I care to count that the bunker fuel is a much tougher target than is generally appreciated.

Submarines - there were only four on that day in port, https://visitpearlharbor.org/pearl-harbor-ships-on-december-7th/

In terms of hitting shore targets - there are so many and how good was their intelligence on what would be the best buildings to hit and which ones were not all that relevant? There is no magic set of five or six targets where you get those and the Pacific Fleet is operating out of San Diego for the near future. To do serious damage to the base and keep it down will require a sustained campaign, not a one off raid.
It is interesting that those subs completed all of their missions without being lost during WW2 - Narwhal was the most decorated but Tautog was not far behind.
 
Hitting the fuel storage would be pretty easy because those big steel drums are massive targets.
In the Raids on Dutch Harbor in June 3-4, 1942, Japanese carrier pilots were ordered to target the fuel tanks and they did so successful, leaving their targets burning and smoking.
Dunno why the IJN opted not to hit the fuel in Pearl.
Maybe they thought that if they sank the US Pacific Fleet than there would be no ships to use the fuel.

As for USN administration buildings, the key problem would be identification.
If the Japanese can get intel about which building is which, then they can definitely target the important ones.
Problem for them is getting accurate intel, either via spies or traitors.

There were 4 USN subs in Pearl at the time of the attack.
-USS Narwhal
-USS Tautog
-USS Dolphin
-USS Cachalot

Narwhal and Tautog sank a large number of Japanese vessels during the Pacific War so their loss may have a slightly negative effect on the overall USN sub war.
Overall though, only Tautog was a modern sub, the other 3 were old and outdated, so their loss wouldn't constitute a major loss.
 
Hitting the fuel storage would be pretty easy because those big steel drums are massive targets.
In the Raids on Dutch Harbor in June 3-4, 1942, Japanese carrier pilots were ordered to target the fuel tanks and they did so successful, leaving their targets burning and smoking.
Dunno why the IJN opted not to hit the fuel in Pearl.
Maybe they thought that if they sank the US Pacific Fleet than there would be no ships to use the fuel.

As for USN administration buildings, the key problem would be identification.
If the Japanese can get intel about which building is which, then they can definitely target the important ones.
Problem for them is getting accurate intel, either via spies or traitors.

There were 4 USN subs in Pearl at the time of the attack.
-USS Narwhal
-USS Tautog
-USS Dolphin
-USS Cachalot

Narwhal and Tautog sank a large number of Japanese vessels during the Pacific War so their loss may have a slightly negative effect on the overall USN sub war.
Overall though, only Tautog was a modern sub, the other 3 were old and outdated, so their loss wouldn't constitute a major loss.
And the individual tanks were protected berms to help prevent flames from spreading. Below is the statement from the after action report of the commanding officer at Dutch Harbor:

Four new steel (6666 - barrel), fuel oil tanks commissioned on May 31, 1942, and filled by the U.S.S. BRAZOS on June 1, were hit and totally destroyed with their contents of 22,000 barrels of fuel oil. The adjacent steel diesel oil tank (15,102 barrel capacity) was punctured and its contents destroyed by fire. The wisdom of having installed these tanks in bunkers was proved when the resulting fire was contained in two bunkers and all other tanks and their contents in the tank farm were saved.

Tanks that suffer direct hits will be destroyed. The Japanese are not using PGMs, plenty of bombs will miss or not hit close enough to their targets to do much in the way of damage and the berms and bunkers will prevent damage from spreading. This is a much tougher target than is generally realized and it's frankly turning into the Pacific's version of Sea Mammal:

1593462188377.png
 
And the individual tanks were protected berms to help prevent flames from spreading. Below is the statement from the after action report of the commanding officer at Dutch Harbor:

Four new steel (6666 - barrel), fuel oil tanks commissioned on May 31, 1942, and filled by the U.S.S. BRAZOS on June 1, were hit and totally destroyed with their contents of 22,000 barrels of fuel oil. The adjacent steel diesel oil tank (15,102 barrel capacity) was punctured and its contents destroyed by fire. The wisdom of having installed these tanks in bunkers was proved when the resulting fire was contained in two bunkers and all other tanks and their contents in the tank farm were saved.

Tanks that suffer direct hits will be destroyed. The Japanese are not using PGMs, plenty of bombs will miss or not hit close enough to their targets to do much in the way of damage and the berms and bunkers will prevent damage from spreading. This is a much tougher target than is generally realized and it's frankly turning into the Pacific's version of Sea Mammal:

View attachment 561646
Use the Vals and dive bomb them.
The D3A1 Val was a excellent dive-bomber, the Japanese naval equivalent of the Ju 87 Stuka.
 
Use the Vals and dive bomb them.
The D3A1 Val was a excellent dive-bomber, the Japanese naval equivalent of the Ju 87 Stuka.
There are a lot of tanks--over 40 of them, in two areas of the base. Even with an excellent dive bomber, it'd take multiple bombers to destroy each. That's more bombers than they have, so attacking the tanks in the early waves means that the ships go basically unengaged.

 
Use the Vals and dive bomb them.
The D3A1 Val was a excellent dive-bomber, the Japanese naval equivalent of the Ju 87 Stuka.
The Japanese Navy had a dive bomber called the D3A1 Val? I had no idea, were any of the rest of your aware of this?

Seriously, I'm aware of the weapon system and its capabilities. It's still an inexact science and there will be misses, it's most definitely not going to be a one bomb, one target kill rate, especially once a couple of direct hits put a nice big cloud of smoke over everything.
 
Plan for more attack waves then. It's not like there are any US carriers nearby, except USS Enterprise and she was too far away.
The Japanese, critically, do not have a copy of Enterprise's tabular record of movement, and don't know where she is. She could be in position to fly her aircraft off to Pearl by sundown...and indeed some aircraft were flown off to Pearl the afternoon of the 7th, arriving around 2100 (where they were shot up by over-eager flak, losing two of 6 Wildcats).
Most likely the IJN loses a few more planes for more damage inflicted on USN facilities.
The second wave lost 17% of their dive bombers to US flak. If the third wave lose the same 30+% inflicted on friendly airplanes just trying to land at the base, they can't keep up strikes very long.
 
The Japanese, critically, do not have a copy of Enterprise's tabular record of movement, and don't know where she is. She could be in position to fly her aircraft off to Pearl by sundown...and indeed some aircraft were flown off to Pearl the afternoon of the 7th, arriving around 2100 (where they were shot up by over-eager flak, losing two of 6 Wildcats).
The second wave lost 17% of their dive bombers to US flak. If the third wave lose the same 30+% inflicted on friendly airplanes just trying to land at the base, they can't keep up strikes very long.
There is also the issue of how many planes that made it back could not be repaired. I'm betting more than a few, these are WWII are Japanese planes we are talking about. Not exactly the Grumman Iron Works here....
 
I would argue that if the Japanese want to hit a POL target, they would get much more bang for their buck by hitting those gas tanks on Ford Island. Gas burns a lot easier than bunker fuel.
 
There is also the issue of how many planes that made it back could not be repaired. I'm betting more than a few, these are WWII are Japanese planes we are talking about. Not exactly the Grumman Iron Works here....
Don't underestimate them.
According to my great-grandfather's diary, those things were an absolute pain in the ass to shoot down.
They could survive quite a few 8mm Mauser rounds fired from ZB 26s or whatever MG his troops had.

The real question is how many flak guns and AAMGs US forces can man by the time the 3rd wave shows up.
 
Plan for more attack waves then.
It's not like there are any US carriers nearby, except USS Enterprise and she was too far away.
Good thing Japan knew where all of the US carriers were then and didn’t, for instance, not even know how many carriers the US had at the time (not in Pearl, I mean in the entire fleet.)

Also good thing Japan wasn’t operating on an extremely tight schedule requiring very limited fuel supplies requiring strapping fuel to ships to make it back.
 
Good thing Japan knew where all of the US carriers were then and didn’t, for instance, not even know how many carriers the US had at the time (not in Pearl, I mean in the entire fleet.)

Also good thing Japan wasn’t operating on an extremely tight schedule requiring very limited fuel supplies requiring strapping fuel to ships to make it back.
Bring more tankers?
Bigger problem is not carrying the fuel but Japan's total fuel reserves.
 
Bring more tankers? Bigger problem is not carrying the fuel but Japan's total fuel reserves.
Pretty much every mobile asset in the IJN was doing something in the days after Pearl. If they had any spare tankers, do you think they would have resorted to deck-loading oil drums in the first place?
 
Bring more tankers?
Bigger problem is not carrying the fuel but Japan's total fuel reserves.
From where? Japan was trying to invade or attack an area that was thousands of miles across, and hitting multiple targets within hours of each other. And they were doing so with very limited resources.

If you want to get the absolute most bang for your buck out of a Pearl Harbor then yes attack the actual targets should be the submarines, repair infrastructure, the tank farm, and etc.

The battleships should have been ignored. The cruisers should have been ignored. But the IJN was never going to do that, because doing so would have required acknowledging what kind of war they were in (and 20/20 hindsight), which would have meant they wouldn't have even tried.
 
1. Heavy marine diesel in a catch pool is easy to put out and then strain, recover and use.
2. PACFLT was at Sunday duty cycle, so it would not be the human capital that would be hurt. Mostly empty buildings.
3. Subs have been covered.
4. I would hit the DRYDOCK and try to wreck it.
 
Pretty much every mobile asset in the IJN was doing something in the days after Pearl. If they had any spare tankers, do you think they would have resorted to deck-loading oil drums in the first place?
Less big battleships that never see action and more useful warships, transports, and tankers while the IJN was prepping in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
But that needs quite a bit of foresight, something everyone sorely lacks.
Except fortune tellers.
 
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