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

A few questions and comments. In no particular order.
Do we actually have proof of what the a Japanese priority was or is this just based on what happened?
According to Zimm, who I mentioned in the other thread the priorities were capital ships (battlehships, that Yamamoto wanted, and carriers, that Genda wanted) to forestall a coss-Pacific offensive by the USN, 'targets necessary to keep the strike aircraft and Japanese warships safe', i.e., airfields, and seaplane bases, and third, infrastructure, including 'shipyards, drydocks, the submarine base, supply depots, administrative buildings, barracks, and fuel storage'. Both quotes are from Zimm, p54/

Know they need more tankers and support ships decades in advance]
Kimnmel had lost several AOs to the Atlantic Fleet when BatDiv 3 (Idaho, New Mexico, Mississippi) and Yorktown went to the Atlantic. He felt he needed 25 for an offensive with the fleet. He had 11, and of those, only four were capable of underway replenishment.

Know that aircraft carriers are more important the any other ships. Decades before said carriers had proven that. Thus they know..l
That battle ships are not that useful
Not to Yamamoto. He thought the battleships were the key to the US cross-Pacific offensive. Genda prioritized the carriers, as I said. See the post referenced/linked above for an explanation.

In addition, not all carrier air groups are created equal. The four veteran carriers of the Kido Butai had the ships in Pearl Harbor on their target list. Zuikaku and Shokaku were so new, and their air groups felt to be 'very green' that they were given easier targets of airfields and aircraft in the air bases on Oahu. Bear in mind the IJN viewed the carrier and air group as a single weapon, and would not cross-deck squadrons the way the USN would (for example, part of Saratoga's group sailing with Yorktown to Midway).

I think in the odd circumstance there were a successful strike on the tank farms on Oahu, I think the USN could just do what the Japanese did at Truk: park a couple of those AOs incapable of underway replenishment in the harbor and use them as storage until the tank farms are repaired. The Japanese execution of this took valuable tankers out of the logistics pool when Japan needed them very badly. Given US industrial capacity, and the fact the US was self-sufficient in petroleum at the time, it think it would be something that would be manageable. Not easy, but possible. I think ships would likely be fueled as soon as possible to empty the tankers and get them back to sea at the earliest opportunity.

My thoughts,
 
According to Zimm, who I mentioned in the other thread the priorities were capital ships (battlehships, that Yamamoto wanted, and carriers, that Genda wanted) to forestall a coss-Pacific offensive by the USN, 'targets necessary to keep the strike aircraft and Japanese warships safe', i.e., airfields, and seaplane bases, and third, infrastructure, including 'shipyards, drydocks, the submarine base, supply depots, administrative buildings, barracks, and fuel storage'. Both quotes are from Zimm, p54/



Kimnmel had lost several AOs to the Atlantic Fleet when BatDiv 3 (Idaho, New Mexico, Mississippi) and Yorktown went to the Atlantic. He felt he needed 25 for an offensive with the fleet. He had 11, and of those, only four were capable of underway replenishment.



Not to Yamamoto. He thought the battleships were the key to the US cross-Pacific offensive. Genda prioritized the carriers, as I said. See the post referenced/linked above for an explanation.

In addition, not all carrier air groups are created equal. The four veteran carriers of the Kido Butai had the ships in Pearl Harbor on their target list. Zuikaku and Shokaku were so new, and their air groups felt to be 'very green' that they were given easier targets of airfields and aircraft in the air bases on Oahu. Bear in mind the IJN viewed the carrier and air group as a single weapon, and would not cross-deck squadrons the way the USN would (for example, part of Saratoga's group sailing with Yorktown to Midway).

I think in the odd circumstance there were a successful strike on the tank farms on Oahu, I think the USN could just do what the Japanese did at Truk: park a couple of those AOs incapable of underway replenishment in the harbor and use them as storage until the tank farms are repaired. The Japanese execution of this took valuable tankers out of the logistics pool when Japan needed them very badly. Given US industrial capacity, and the fact the US was self-sufficient in petroleum at the time, it think it would be something that would be manageable. Not easy, but possible. I think ships would likely be fueled as soon as possible to empty the tankers and get them back to sea at the earliest opportunity.

My thoughts,
The source I used that showed the target priorities was an article from Jon Parschall in the Naval War College Review and he was citing work done by HP Wilmott and some Japanese historians so it probably has some degree of credibility. Regardless, it is clear the Japanese had a number of targets on their list before shore based logistics.

I like your point about using the older tankers. The other thing is that whatever damage would have been done to the tank farm and any other shore facilities, fixing the damage would be top priority and given that the US was the world's leading oil producer at the time and had a great deal of industrial capacity on the west coast (plus repair capabilities on Oahu), without the Japanese coming back for restrikes over an extended period of time, the damage probably gets repaired fairly quickly.
 
The Japanese historians were first to call foul on Fuchida, that self promoting book seller and con-man.



What Zheng He said on the subject I cannot improve. I will say this as a reason it seems the Pacific War takes so long. I war-gamed out possible moves to PoD a certain timeline and I keep coming up with the same situation that the Central Pacific is wide open and just waiting to be plucked clean in early 1943, but there are not the means available to hand to invade and appropriate all those nifty vulnerable islands that are so poorly defended, because the Japanese have sent most of their stuff to SE Asia and/or the SWPOA. The Americans are still building the fleets, air forces and marine divisions they need to carry on the campaign.

I think I might have worked out a way around it; but it is a high risk option and goes against the politics of the day. There was this Aleutians campaign that burned up a couple of army divisions and an entire air force to no purpose. The force is there and it is misused about the time it is needed to exploit Japanese weakness. Why not use it somewhere practical? Like Wake Island? There is a little problem of sealift and the Combined Fleet parked at Truk, but I am working on that item, too. It is a submarine war thread after all.
There is a great podcast on YouTube with Jon Parschall where he said he sent an email to a Japanese professor asking him about inconsistencies in some of Fuchida's stories and he said the Japanese guy emailed and said something like, "The problem is that you Americans have never figured out that Fuchida was a liar."

I hope you pursue your idea of a TL where the US does not waste resources taking back a couple of frozen islands and instead starts the offensive early. That would be a good read although you are right on the challenges. Time, distance, and logistics in the Pacific are a beast.
 

nbcman

Donor
{snip}

I think in the odd circumstance there were a successful strike on the tank farms on Oahu, I think the USN could just do what the Japanese did at Truk: park a couple of those AOs incapable of underway replenishment in the harbor and use them as storage until the tank farms are repaired. The Japanese execution of this took valuable tankers out of the logistics pool when Japan needed them very badly. Given US industrial capacity, and the fact the US was self-sufficient in petroleum at the time, it think it would be something that would be manageable. Not easy, but possible. I think ships would likely be fueled as soon as possible to empty the tankers and get them back to sea at the earliest opportunity.

My thoughts,
One impact of parking some AOs in PH would potentially butterfly the conversions of some of Cimmaron class oilers which could delay / eliminate some of the early war CVEs like Chenango, Santee, Sangamon, & Suwannee all of which were involved in Op Torch. They were all barely operational by Torch and a 1.5 -2 month delay could prevent their use in Op Torch.
 
The source I used that showed the target priorities was an article from Jon Parschall in the Naval War College Review and he was citing work done by HP Wilmott and some Japanese historians so it probably has some degree of credibility. Regardless, it is clear the Japanese had a number of targets on their list before shore based logistics.
Zheng,

Mildly off-topic, but did you see the video of Jon Parshall at the Naval War College discussing Midway?


I like your point about using the older tankers. The other thing is that whatever damage would have been done to the tank farm and any other shore facilities, fixing the damage would be top priority and given that the US was the world's leading oil producer at the time and had a great deal of industrial capacity on the west coast (plus repair capabilities on Oahu), without the Japanese coming back for restrikes over an extended period of time, the damage probably gets repaired fairly quickly.
Good point on US capacity, and the proximity to any potential damage.

Regards,
 
One impact of parking some AOs in PH would potentially butterfly the conversions of some of Cimmaron class oilers which could delay / eliminate some of the early war CVEs like Chenango, Santee, Sangamon, & Suwannee all of which were involved in Op Torch. They were all barely operational by Torch and a 1.5 -2 month delay could prevent their use in Op Torch.
All four Sangamons were in civilian service and taken by the USN for conversion, which would have been well under way by the time of Pearl Harbor. I do think they retained most if not all of their tanker capability. You do have a point though; that tanker capability might be made more valuable than their carrier capability, depending on logistics.

I've had this site on Chenango bookmarked for years


Regards,
 

nbcman

Donor
All four Sangamons were in civilian service and taken by the USN for conversion, which would have been well under way by the time of Pearl Harbor. I do think they retained most if not all of their tanker capability. You do have a point though; that tanker capability might be made more valuable than their carrier capability, depending on logistics.

I've had this site on Chenango bookmarked for years


Regards,
From what I can see, they were all AOs operating in the Atlantic at the time of PH. The CVE conversions didn't start until Feb or March 1942.

Very nice link for Chenango
 
From what I can see, they were all AOs operating in the Atlantic at the time of PH. The CVE conversions didn't start until Feb or March 1942.

Very nice link for Chenango
You're right, it was '42 when they were taken in hand. I was thinking it was '41...

Regards,
 
Could some older cruisers be made part of the fleet, and then sent to shell the oil fields and shipyards?
They needed every single one of their cruisers for leading destroyer squadrons, leading submarine squadrons, or providing presence in some of the more far-flung of Japan’s southern operations. Tenryu and Tatsuta, for example, were kept very busy while the Japanese seized New Guinea.

In general, if you ask whether Japan can add resources X, Y, and Z to the Pearl Harbor op, the answer is no, because Japan was maxing out it’s naval resources to conduct the Southern Operation and Pearl Harbor.
 

nbcman

Donor
Could some older cruisers be made part of the fleet, and then sent to shell the oil fields and shipyards?
Unfortunately the search function isn't working or I could link to past discussions. The problem is that the Kido Butai was north of PH and the cruisers would have to detach and sail around Oahu to try to get close enough to shell the inland targets without getting blown up by the shore batteries located along the approaches of PH in 6 forts (Fort Ruger, Fort DeRussy, Fort Armstrong, Fort Barrette, Fort Weaver, Fort Kamehameha ) .
 
Could some older cruisers be made part of the fleet, and then sent to shell the oil fields and shipyards?
One thing to remember is that the Kido Butai launched the attack from 230 miles north of Pearl Harbor, which means that those cruisers would have to sail the rest of the way to launch such an attack, which means either the risk of detection goes up massively (and the attack HAS to be a suprise attack), or they attack after the airplanes have hit (and get attacked by shore defenses.)
 
There was this Aleutians campaign that burned up a couple of army divisions and an entire air force to no purpose. The force is there and it is misused about the time it is needed to exploit Japanese weakness. Why not use it somewhere practical?
Part of the Allied Aleutians campaign was the construction of the Alaska Highway, which was an insane engineering project. That military and civilian labour and equipment and money could have been better used elsewhere as well.
 
Yes, and they were relatively effective. They destroyed 188 and damaged 159, which is impressive, except that's out of 390. That leaves 43 combat-effective planes. That's not enough to repel the attack, which means their surpression efforts worked, but it's enough to be disruptive and dangerous. And of course, Enterprise is in the area, hunting with her own scouts and strike planes...
And given the performance of the very same damage control teams six months later, all It would have taken is a lucky pair of scouting SBDs and one of the Kido Butai isn’t going home. Very similar circumstances in all likelihood too, hangar floors cluttered with ordinance as planes are hurriedly rearmed for another strike...
 
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Part of the Allied Aleutians campaign was the construction of the Alaska Highway, which was an insane engineering project. That military and civilian labour and equipment and money could have been better used elsewhere as well.
That is another thing that burned me up about pre-war US planning. If Al-Can was a thing, why not build it as part of the !@# !@#$ed WPA in the 1930s? Anyway, there is this Alice Springs to Darwin railroad I want to try out as a substitute.
 
That is another thing that burned me up about pre-war US planning. If Al-Can was a thing, why not build it as part of the !@# !@#$ed WPA in the 1930s? Anyway, there is this Alice Springs to Darwin railroad I want to try out as a substitute.
Pre war construction would be a good POD in a Keyes cruisers style timeline.
 
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.
By the standards of pretty much all the major players in WW2 a light machine gun chambered in rifle calibre rounds fed by a 20-30 round magazine is considered the lowest tier of AA and considered barely better then massed rifle fire ( Which was considered by pretty much everyone except for the Japanese to be pretty much useless in anything but exceptional circumstances.)

While the AAA defenses of Oahu on December 7th would be considered very poor by later war standards your still talking about a sizeable number of .50 caliber HMGs and various models of 3 inch AA guns.
 
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