Aleutians

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plan_D

Lieutenant Colonel
11,643
21
Apr 1, 2004
On June 3rd the IJN attacked Dutch Harbor and Fort Mears on the Aleutian isle of Unalaska. This was in time with the attack on Midway island. Although the Japanese intention is not exactly known it is most likely they wanted to secure their northern flank and abolish the USN line of defence stretching from Pearl Harbor to Dutch Harbor.

To combat this threat the United States and Canada pushed up forces into Alaska and the Aleutian islands of Kodiak, Umalaska and Umnak. These forces were slight as the U.S was stretched in other theatres of war and in the PTO itself.

Task Force Tare was set up under Rear Admiral Robert A. Theobald. He commanded all the Canadian forces in the Aleutians as well as all U.S Navy and Army personel.

Under his command were fifty-two vessels which broken down were:

Two Heavy Cruisers
Three Light Cruisers
Eleven Destroyers
Six Submarines
Two Destroyer Seaplane Tenders
One Gunboat
One Minesweeper
Two Oilers
Ten Coast Guard vessels
Fourteen District Patrol vessels

He also had one hundred and sixty-nine aircraft (Mostly 11th Air Force):

Ninety-Four Fighters
Seven Four-Engined Bombers
Forty-Two Twin-Engined Bombers
Twenty-Three Maritime Patrol
Three Scouts

The U.S knew an attack was coming. The defence order was put out on May 27th, 1942. All of the U.S forces were on high alert for early June. Twenty-three Catalinas were seperated between Dutch Harbor (Unalaska) and Kodiak island. The USAAF also posted twelve P-40 fighter aircraft at the highly secret Fort Glenn on Umnak. Twelve F4F-4 Wildcats were on shipment to the Aleutian isles as reinforcement.

On June 2nd - two Japanese carriers were spotted 400 miles south of Kiska Island. On the 3rd, Dutch Harbor and Ft. Mears were attacked by fifteen fighters and thirteen bombers. They did not meet resistance from U.S fighters who failed to intercept them. However, two aircraft were claimed by U.S anti-aircraft fire.

On the 4th, Dutch Harbor was attacked again. This time throughout the evening. Altogether the attacked made up eleven fighters, ten dive bombers and eight bombers. On the same day Fort Glenn (Umnak) was attacked by nine aircraft, two were destroyed by the defending P-40s and the rest had to withdraw.

Does anyone the accurate loss statistics of these two days (3rd and 4th June, 1942) for the Aleutians?

What ships were there? Names please.

And what are the codings for U.S ships? I still haven't learnt that!

Any other information would be nice. And feel free to discuss the campaign afterwards. I'm learning about it now so I'll add bits and pieces if it's worth it.
 

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About a more accurate analisys see: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/Aleutians/USN-CN-Aleutians-Intro.html

Japanese invasion forces, from Hokkaido island :
NORTHERN (Aleutians) FORCE (5th Fleet) - VADM Hosogaya Moshiro
Chief of Staff, CAPT Nakazawa Tasuku

Northern Force Main Body - VADM Hosogaya
Nachi (CA, flagship) - CAPT Kiyota Takahiko
Screen - CDR Takeuchi Hajime
Inazuma (DD) - CDR Takeuchi
Ikazuchi (DD) - LCDR Kudo Shunsaku
Supply Group
Fuhisan Maru (oiler)
Nissan Maru (oiler)
3 cargo ships
Second Carrier Striking Force - RADM Kakuta Kakuji

Carrier Group (CarDiv 4) - RADM Kakuta
Ryujo (CVL, flagship) - CAPT Kato Tadao
Air Unit - LT Yamagami Masayuki
Kansen - LT Kobayashi Minoru 16 A6M2
Kanko - LT Yamagami 21 B5N2

Junyo (CV) - CAPT Ishii Shizue
Air Unit - LT Shiga Yoshio
Kansen - LT Shiga 24 A6M2
Kanbaku - LT Abe Zenji 21 D3A1

Support Group (2nd section, CruDiv 4) - CAPT Nabeshima Shunaska
Maya (CA) - CAPT Nabeshima
Takao (CA) - CAPT Asakura Bunji
Screen (DesDiv 7) - CAPT Konishi Kaname
Akebono - LCDR Nakagawa Minoru
Ushio - CDR Uesugi Yoshitake
Sazanami - LCDR Uwai Hiroshi
Teiyo Maru (oiler)


Attu Invasion Force - RADM Omori Sentaro
Abukuma (CL, flagship)
DesDiv 21 - CAPT Shimizu Toshio
Wakaba - LCDR Kuroki Masakichi
Nehohi - LCDR Terauchi Saburo
Hatsuharu - CDR Makino Hiroshi
Hatsushimo - LCDR Migihama Satoru
Magane Maru (minesweeper)
Kinugasa Maru (transport)5

Kiska Invasion Force - CAPT Ono Takeji
CruDiv 21 - CAPT Ono
Kiso (CL, flagship) - CAPT Ono
Tama (CL) - CAPT Kawabata Masaharu
Asaka Maru (auxiliary cruiser) - CAPT Ban Jiro

Screen (DesDiv 6) - CAPT Yamada Yusuke
Hibiki - LCDR Ishii Hagumu
Akatsuki - CDR Takasuka Osamu
Hokaze - LCDR Tanaka Tomoo

Transports6
Hakuho Maru
Kumagawa Maru
Minesweeper Div 13 - CAPT Mitsuka Toshio
Hakuho Maru
Shunkotsu Maru
Kaiho Maru

Submarine Detachment - RADM Yamazaki Shigeshi
SubRon 1 - I.9 (flagship) - RADM Yamazaki
SubDiv 2 - CAPT Imazato Hiroshi
I.15 - CDR Ishikawa Nohuo
I.17 - CDR Nishino Kozo
I.19 - Narahara Seigo
SubDiv 4 - CAPT Nagai Mitsuru
I.25 - CDR Togami Meihi
I.26 - CDR Yokota Minoru

from: http://www.centuryinter.net/midway/appendix/appendixtwo.html

Details about the air actions in June 3-4( from Eserciti nella Storia, Deltaedeitrice editions, n. 11, May 2002):

-First attack by 15 Mitsubishi A6M2 of 6th Kokutai , from carrier Junyo , each with two 60 kg bombs, and 13 Nakajima B5N Kate each with a 500 Kg high explosive bomb , from carrier Ryujo.
12 Aichi D3a val from Junyo didn't succeed in finding their target and came back.
Japanese task force was spotted by a Catalina that was immediately shot down by a Zero, and by floatplane-carrier USS Gillis which launched the alarm , received only by Cold Bay airport, too far ( 300 km) for an effective action of the P40s.

-June, 4: 10 Zeros , 16 Val and various floatplanes attacked again Dutch Harbour ,causing serious damages and some casualties.
A counter-attack by 21 P40 from Fort Glenn US Army secret airport in Unmak island caused the lost of two mitsubishi F1m Pete and 1 Aichi E13a Jake while they were attacking four destroyers in the harbour.

One Zero ( Pilot Officer Tadayoshi Koga), damaged by the AA fire ,did an emergency landing in Akutan island , where it was captured , repaired and sent to San Diego: it gave precious informations about the new fighter to US armed forces.
In the morning 6 B26 each armed by a torpedo from Fort Glenn attacked the japanese fleet , only one targeted Ryujo but the torpedo missed the carrier, one Marauder was shot down by the Zeros, the others could neither find their targets and they came back to their airport.
Two B17 attacked heavy cruiser Takao without any apparent results, one of them was shot down by the AA fire.
The attack caused 43 casualties ( ten civilians) and 64 injured in two days.
USA lost 11 aircrafts , most of them Catalina flying boats intercepted by the Zeros in the hours before the second attack, Japaneses lost ten aircrafts.
 
When I would travel out to Japan, our flight route was over the Aleutions. Once in awhile there would be a break in the clouds and you could see the islands.

What a wasteland. Miserable place to fight over. No tree's, just snow, fog and grass.
 
I've got a U.S examination video of the Aleutians campaign, I've seen them. I showed my dad, it reminds him of the Falklands but "the grass is too long to be the Falklands."
 
Casually , in these last times I'm interested too in Aleutinian invasion and in other "exotical" or not-well known war theatres.
Deltaeditrice's 2002 paper refers to official USAAF and US-Navy reports from NARA microfilms that are sometimes in contraddiction with other bibliographical sources, in particular about numerical data.

The Aleutin campaign had a mainly psycological importance: it was the first time that Japanese troops invaded USA continental territory (Aleutins are administratively connected with Alaska), Supreme Command expected a rise in Japanese troops moral and in the same time heavy political consequences on the notoriously very sensible USA public opinion.The Italian projects of attacks to New York by X-MAS midget submarines or by a CZ-511 long range floatplane had these same purposes.

As secondary targets, Japanese Empire tried to open a new front to distract American troops ships and resources from the Central Pacific front, and to hamper the communications between USA and URSS.

I would like to find some more detailed reports and pictures about the fightings on the following months between Mavis flying boats, Rufe floatplanes of 452 Kokutai and Bell P39 and P40 of USAAF and Royal Canadian Air Force.....
 
I've recently been interested in the Aleutian campaign. I have not heard any definate objective of the Japanese in their attempt on the Aleutians. I know the U.S approach was they believed the Japanese had a moral booster every minute they were on U.S soil. Also, they saw a threat to Alaska from the Japanese fleet. There were many reports of the IJN fleet being anything up to including five fleet carriers.

From the Japanese point of view, I see it as a diversion from Midway. It was also to break a line on the Pearl Harbor - Midway - Dutch Harbor triangle of defence for the west coast of the U.S.A. Crushing Midway wouldn't have been enough to secure the Pacific. The only triangle, or at least two corners of it needed to feel the weight of the IJN. On top of that there's the moral of the troops, as you said.

As we all know though the Japanese were soundly defeated at Midway which in course changed their plans against the Aleutian Isles. A retreat to Kiska and Attu merely seems to be a moral booster - and, from an American point of view a staging post for attacks against the Aleutians.

I'm currently only up to June 10th, 1942. Day by day on the Aleutians it was such a small campaign!
 
Here is an interesting page on Attu Island. I was there for a week many years ago. I can tell you, it's colder than I could stand and feels VERY desolate. One of the forgotten cold war outposts as well as WWII battlegrounds. The have pictures of the crashed P-38 and some ships wrecked, coastal defense batteries and a Japanese war memorial.

http://www.hlswilliwaw.com/aleutians/attu-homepage.htm
 
Thank you for that. I'll have to have a good read of that site.
 
Hello: Bert Weber's book Silent Siege, has some chapters
devoted to the Aleutian campain. I highly recomend it.
Billy the Kid AGF
 

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