Were the Japanese really after our carriers at Pearl?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by VBF-13, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Ever think this out? In the first place, how could they even have expected our carriers to have been there? You don't station carriers, you put them to sea. Just for their maneuvers, they're at sea. I don't know that they expected to get our carriers at Pearl. Our oil, I don't know how they missed that, given how that island was mapped. How hard is it to find an oil depot? A dummy like Saddam found the oil in Kuwait. But our carriers? I don't know that they realistically were figuring on getting those. What do you think?
     
  2. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    The objectives were the capital fleet units – ie battleships and carriers. That the carriers would not be in port was known by the Japanese just prior to the attack. However, their battle doctrine called for a short war and a single crippling blow against the US Pacific Fleet, so hitting the BBs was considered worth it. Enterprise might have been in harbour on the seventh, if not for about a day and a half of delays due to weather. Lexington was on a run out to Midway with aircraft.

    The same logic applies to not hitting the oil tanks and port facilities. Nagumo was nervous and didn’t consider hitting the fixed installations on the third wave as important as hitting the fleet units. With most of the battleships sunk, burning or damaged in some way, he chose to withdraw instead of sticking his neck out further.
     
  3. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #3 tyrodtom, Jan 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
    Aircraft carriers are the same as any other complex machinery, they can't stay in service and at sea indefinitely. They have to spend some time in port for maintenance
    .
    But I do wonder what the ratio of port time to sea time is for a WW2 era carrier is in peace time ?

    Nagumo would have had to sent a 3rd wave to strike the oil storage, meaning they'd be returing after dark. He'd either have to stay blacked out and and lose most of that strike force, or light up so the returning aircraft could find him, and also possibly also attract the US carriers that might be just over the horizon for all he knew.

    Another good reason no ship can stay at sea for very extended periods, particuarily in peacetime, is young males. I shouldn't have to explain any further.
     
  4. Francis marliere

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    Gentlemen,

    I suggest that you have a look at "The Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions" by Alan Zimm which explains in detail why (and how) the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In short, the Japanese Navy thought that in case of war the USN would steam accross the Pacific and succesfully defend the Philippines. Hence, the USN had to be crippled to secure the invasion of south-east Asia. Yamamoto's orders were to sink or damage battleships. Without sufficient advantage in battleships, the USN would either be defeated in combat or give up the idea to defende the Philippines.
    However, the people in charge of Pearl Harbor battle plan (mainly Genda Minoru) were strong advocates of air power. Hence, US carriers became the main target of the strikes.

    Please note that a 3rd strike against oil storage, submarine base and other land targets was never an option.
    The Japanese expected to suffer heavy looses (including carriers) in the operation. They were delighted by the success and did not want to take more risks.
    There was no reasons to attack the oil storage because their objective was to secure the conquest of SE Asia. Once the battleships were sunk or damaged, attacking the land targets was useless.
    The Japanese, as Peatty Evans wrote in "Kaigun", prepared for battle, not for war. They did not think enough about logistic. It was not in their mindset to attack targets like oil storage, especially when there were a lot of cruisers and destroyers undamaged.
    As Dr. Zimm points out, the land targets as the oil storage could not easily be damaged. They were hudge targets that could only be destroyed by far more ordnance than the carrier planes could deliver. The Japanese were perfectly aware that a new strike would cost a lot of planes and crews (that Japan could not easily replace) and would achieve very little. In short, it was not a good trade-off.

    Best,

    Francis Marliere
     
  5. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    I wasn't aware that the Japanese were supposed to be after carriers more than any other capital ships - but my understanding is that the demise of the US battleships elevated the carriers to premier status by default. The day of the battleship was gone. Yamamoto knew it, and I'm sure the best US tacticians did too. If there was one sliver of silver lining to Pearl Harbour it was the survival of the Us carriers - and that the tragedy of the loss of the battleships spared the USN the shock experienced by the RN when they sent the Prince of Wales and Repulse to show the Japanese who was boss.
     
  6. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    Since the attack on Pearl Harbour was a clandestine affair, the IJN had little opportunity to do recon just before the attack in case they were found and gave the game away.
    So they had to gamble on finding any USN ships at anchor. It was unlikely that all USN ships would be at sea on a Sunday morning, so they just had to hit whatever they found, which they did a pretty good job of.
    The third wave was a non starter as explained by other posts.
    So, I dont believe that the US carriers were specifically a target - but the IJN would have been pleased if their aircraft had found them at anchor!
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I could be wrong but I believe the USS Utah was moored in spot usually used by an aircraft carrier? Or legend?

    Took a torpedo at 8:01.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree.

    However the greatest Japanese success at Pear Harbor was destroying USN self confidence. That plus investigations into Pearl Harbor leadership left USN Pacific Fleet almost paralyzed during the crucial months of December 1941 and January 1942 which allowed Japan to run wild at the beginning of the war.
     
  9. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #9 kettbo, Jan 31, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
    "Nagumo would have had to sent a 3rd wave to strike the oil storage, meaning they'd be returing after dark. He'd either have to stay blacked out and and lose most of that strike force, or light up so the returning aircraft could find him, and also possibly also attract the US carriers that might be just over the horizon for all he knew".

    HUH? Midday/early afternoon to launch the third wave I'd think, recover late afternoon? I'd have to see what remained behind, what came back from Wave 1. Pretty sure they rearmed immediately. edit: I have the IJN fleet 250 miles out...an hour and change of flight time at cruise speeds. 2nd wave launched (started launches?) at 715 and reached Oahu at 0850 ending an hour later.



    "The Japanese, as Peatty Evans wrote in "Kaigun", prepared for battle, not for war. They did not think enough about logistic. It was not in their mindset to attack targets like oil storage, especially when there were a lot of cruisers and destroyers undamaged.
    As Dr. Zimm points out, the land targets as the oil storage could not easily be damaged. They were hudge targets that could only be destroyed by far more ordnance than the carrier planes could deliver. The Japanese were perfectly aware that a new strike would cost a lot of planes and crews (that Japan could not easily replace) and would achieve very little. In short, it was not a good trade-off."


    Oh really? I'll have to read up on this Dr. Zimm. Sounds like complete scholarly BS to me. I've seen oil tanks burn nicely from accidents....much less bombs. Have you seen these storage tanks at Pearl? Big. Lots of them. Some good size bombs on a few of these, incindaries for effect... and you'd have a serious fire...probably spreading. I'd agree, 3rd wave would hit these vs obscure the 'real targets' in the water. Did not have to take them all out, just most of them. Hit the fuel pumping and transfer. IIRC, the tank farm was full or near full, takes months to fill these babies up from stateside. By omission, the IJN attack left the USN well set with at least fuel oil for operations. A small strike could have levelled the tank farms, stranding the US Fleet....wag the dog

    edit
    consider the risk to the IJN fliers:
    Alerted US bases and ships. 3rd wave would have been a real morale crusher. Wondering what was left flyable for the US. Pretty sure they uploaded/prepped what planes they could if the IJN planes came back, just no number comes to mind. I'd say the IJN fliers would face some opposition, have losses....but they would have gotten through IMHO. They expected huge losses in attack 1 and 2, did not happen.

    risk to IJN fleet:
    aha..... Where are the USN aircraft carriers? Sure that played on ADM Nagumo. From what I read, the IJN thought 4 carriers were based at Pearl Harbor not just the two we knew that were there. Not certain what planes we had aboard then.
     
  10. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Could the Japanese rearm the aircraft while recovery operations were still going on?
    Or did they have to move aircraft to lower decks as they landed to make room for other landing aircraft?
    It seems that was part of the problem at Midway, turnaround time.

    I think Nagumo knew what their turnaround time was.
    Knew that Pearl Harbors defenses were operating now, they'd inflicted over twice the loses on the 2nd wave than the 1st.
    Knew that he had already fulfill his orders.
    Did not know where US carriers were.
    I think Nagumo, put that all together and decided to turn the fleet to it's next appointment at Wake.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    "Shattered Sword" provides an excellent description of IJN CV aircraft operations.

    WWII era Japanese CVs had a very advanced landing system, at least compared to USN. There was no Landing Signals Officer. During 1932 Japan developed landing guidance lights to assist pilots in setting up a safe approach. This also made all IJN CVs capable of night operations.

    An aircraft would land.
    Crash barrier would lower to deck.
    Aircraft would taxi forward of crash barrier.
    Crash barrier would raise.

    During normal operations an IJN CV could land one aircraft every 25 to 45 seconds.

    Aircraft whose hangar was located in forward part of CV would use forward elevator to take the aircraft below. Once in the hangar rearming and refueling could begin immediately.

    Typically fighter aircraft used forward hangers. This probably facilitated CAP operations. Fighter aircraft could be quickly refueled and sent back up without disturbing other aircraft operations.

    Aircraft whose hangar was in aft part of CV had to wait until landing operations were completed. Then they were pushed to the aft elevator for movement to the hangar deck.
     
  12. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The landing lights only assisted in landing, once the carrier was found. Finding the carrier in the dark is the bigger problem.
     
  13. model299

    model299 Member

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    The author of Shattered Sword also said that the IJN always serviced their aircraft below decks. Never on the flight deck. Said that's just the way the IJN did things.
     
  14. Francis marliere

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    Kettbo,

    I suggest that you read the book and make up your own mind.

    Best,

    Francis
     
  15. Francis marliere

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    Just a precision : Shattered Sword describes Japanese doctrine at the time of the Battle of Midway. Later in the war, the Japanese changed their doctrine and serviced their planes on the deck.

    Best,

    Francis Marliere
     
  16. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know but that I agree with Kettbo, they could have cinched the oil. Francis, there's no question, the carriers were a target. I don't know that they realistically expected much there, though. Look at the pre-invasion layout showing the dockings around Ford Island. Do you see any parking spaces for any carriers there? And they couldn't have been expecting to attract them from sea, they weren't there long enough.
     
  17. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    In answer to the question, "Were the Japanese really after our carrirers at Pearl?"
    Yes, yes they were. They were after every capitol ship that the U.S. Navy had.
    Done deal.
     
  18. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Meatloaf:

    Any thoughts on that?
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Looking at it from 70 years in the future, no it doesn't seem too realistic for the Japanese to have expected everything to be in Pearl Harbor just waiting to be sunk.
    I sure they didn't expect that either, but i'm sure they hoped some carriers would be there.
    Even carriers have to come to port for the usual repairs, maintanence, etc., just like any other ship.
     
  20. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I am watching a documentary ;
    Pearl Harbor :Seconds from disaster.
    In which they claim that Yamamoto was wanting to hit the US carriers, Nagumo - was targeting the BB's.
    They also lay the blame on Nagumo for not launching the second wave against the oil storage facilities and the dockyard facilities etc.
    This would have delayed the USN's ability to bounce back from the attack?
     
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