What if Empire of Japan sent their combined fleet to Europe

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by vashstampede, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Germany had a much smaller sized fleet than UK, it is why they were unable to launch an invasion. Their air force also failed to completely knock out the UK air force during the Battle of Britain.

    What if Japan had sent their carrier fleet to Germans' aid to help them conquer UK.
    Do you think UK could have stood a chance against the level of fleet that Japan had pulled off at Pearl Harbor and Midway? They had over 200 surface ships and 700 carrier planes at the Battle of Midway. If they throw this fleet at UK during the time of Battle of Britain...
    With Japanese naval and air force support, do you think Germany could have been able to conquer UK?

    From that point on, what do you think would have happened afterward? :D
  2. sniper

    sniper Active Member

    I still don't think that the Germans would of been able to of taken the UK in an invasion. We had a huge fleet up in Scarpa Flow waiting for the invasion and they would of cut off the German Army by knocking out any supply ships as they crossed. We also had a Fleet in the Med which would of come up to help. Though the Japanese had 700 planes at Midway they would not of had that amount if they had sent them to help the Germans. Their fleet would of been attacked and harried before it got to the Atlantic and they would of lost a good proportion of their fleet before they made it up the coast of Africa. The distance would of been way to far for them to come and the Germans were in no position to be able to fuel them or feed them so supply ships would of had to of come from Japan. The logistics of this were to massive for them to help the Germans at this point in the war, they just did not have the means to do this. Also in 1940 Japan had not yet entered the war.

  3. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    I can agree on that logistic might be a problem for Japanese fleet if they come all the way from east Asia. However, during Battle of Britain, the Germans were not yet fighting the Russians. They should have enough resources to support the Japanese fleet, keep them supplied with fuel, ammunition, and food, etc.

    Japan was in the war. They started fighting the Chinese on a full scale war back in 1937. That's two years before Poland was invaded. Millions troops from both sides were involved in each major campaign. Although, Japan had not yet declared war on UK, France, USA, Russia, yet.

    I can see the point that if Japanese fleet start moving west, there will be no surprise attack like they did Pearl Harbor. Plenty of countries and ships will notice this fleet. However, with over 200 surface ships, who will react to it? You mentioned they would lose a good portion before they get there, do you think the UK will attack Japanese fleet of that size if Japan did not declare war first? They always hit first, declare wars later, their usual tactics. Sure, UK would definitely suspect Japanese fleet's intention if over 200 ships started moving west, but until they get quite close, I don't think anyone can guess where they are going, or what they are up to.

    Just when do you think UK would start to react? It takes time to put together a fleet can counter the Japanese fleet of that size. Japanese had 700 carrier planes at Midway, they were all taken with them on the ships, so they can take them with the fleet too if they decided to move west.

    Even if UK have decided to intercept Japanese fleet from very early on, it would take everything UK got to do it. And where do you think UK can set up the ambush? With a fleet that size, Japanese could of attacked any place along the way. Maybe they would even change their mind when they pass Middle East and see "oil..." lol...but that's not the topic. :p But then again, if Japanese did attack some UK controlled areas along the way, I don't think there is anyone could stop them until UK can pull entire royal navy together.

    By the way, I am not sure how many carriers did UK process at the time of Battle of Britain. Without enough carrier planes, no fleet can match the same Japanese combined fleet at Midway.
  4. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    I don’ play the “what if” games, they usually require too much of a suspension of rationality for my blood - usually ending up with one side running rampant in anachronistic operations and equipment whilst the other side is stuck, feet in concrete, firmly mired in their historical position and capabilities. I deal in facts and numbers, so I can’t get my mind around that which never happened. I won’t comment on outcomes to your scenario except to ask some questions and point out some pitfalls to any would haves or could haves.

    At least twice you state that the Japanese brought 700 planes to the Battle of Midway. I find that not just a suspension of rationality, but a suspension of reality. At the Battle of Midway, the Kido Butai, that is, Akagi, Soryu, Hiryu and Kaga, had combined but 249 aircraft - and this even includes the 21 A6M2s carried as cargo to be eventually stationed on the new Japanese air base on Midway. The invasion group carried, between Zuiho, Chitose, and Kimikama Maru, another 56 aircraft. That is a total of 305 aircraft brought to the table for the battle, no where near your reported 700.

    And presuming this grand fleet movement is being made in the summer of 1940, in time for Sea Lion, just what do you expect the Japanese air power to offer? The A6M2, the vaunted Japanese fighter encountered in the Pacific just entered squadron service in the spring of 1940 and entered their first combat in July 1940. Further, Japanese production was nothing like one found in western industrialized nations. By end of September 1940, after the end of the Battle of Britain, less than 100 A6M2s had been produced, about 100 D3A dive bombers, and 150 B5Ns. Not near enough to out fit the existing carriers (and remember as well that Shokaku and Zuikaku were not ready until, respectively, August and September 1941), maintain training operations, outfit land units and, where required, continue operations against the Chinese. Bottom-line would be a good chance that a fighter aboard a Japanese carrier wandering into the north Atlantic in the summer of 1940 would be the A6M2’s predecessor, the A5M, hardly an adversary of concern to a Hurricane or Spitfire pilot. Other strike aircraft would of necessity include the flower of mid to late 1930’s bi-plane technology as there would not be enough of more modern types to go around.

    And the one of the keys to the great successes that Japanese carrier aircraft saw up until May 1942 was largely due to the application of superior numbers to the point of action . . . how do you think that would work facing some 85% of the RAF?

    And there is the small question of exactly where do you think all these Japanese ships are planning to get their fuel? Certainly not from the Germans, and one could be assured the ports on the east coast of the US would not be a place they would be welcomed. So . . . their next move as their destroyers bob about higher and higher out of the water in the midst of the Atlantic hurricane season would be . . . what?
  5. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    I got the number 700+ planes from over a decade ago from a newspaper article. I just checked, it seems whoever edited wikipedia said Japan had 249 carrier based planes in Battle of Midway.

    I can't find a more reliable source to confirm that, but to think each of the 4 carrier could only carry 60 or so planes was quite less than impressive. Keep in mind that WWII carrier based aircraft required a lot less room on the carrier than modern jets.

    As for Japanese war production during WWII, I agree they were not up to the standard of western powers. But I have also seen the number of "2 planes per day" back in the old days from a history text book about the Japanese' capability of manufacturing warplanes during WWII.

    I agree that Japanese task force alone could not take out UK, but my point was, if this fleet was there during Battle of Britain, combined with German air force which was superior to UK's at the beginning of the battle, it could be a problem for UK. Especially with that many surface ships, they could provide good cover for German troops to land in UK.

    Just how many ships were available in Royal Navy at the time? Even if they were to engage Japanese fleet, German air force could come to their aid and make them good target. Sure Royal air force will come to, it would be an all out battle over the ocean instead of over UK.

    You did bring up the point where they are going to get resupplied. There are plenty of places.
    1. Italy.
    2. German occupied France.
    There are the two places came to my mind.
  6. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    I tend to avoid Wiki as one should avoid Ebola. Without dragging out a bunch of official reports and documents or even a list of book titles, here’s a couple of websites which spell out the Kido Butai and the invasion force available aircraft in some listings by some folks who have apparently done their homework (as he quickly shoves the lamp under a basket):

    http://www.centuryinter.net/midway/ (scroll down and click on “Appendix”)

    Aircraft aboard Japanese aircraft carriers involved in Midway operations were:

    19 A6M2
    18 D3A1
    18 B5N2
    6 A6M2 cargo
    61 Akagi total

    18 A6M2
    18 D3A1
    27 B5N2
    9 A6M2 cargo
    72 Kaga total

    18 A6M2
    18 D3A1
    18 B5N2
    3 A6M2 cargo
    57 Hiryu total

    18 A6M2
    18 D3A1
    18 B5N2
    2 D4Y1
    3 A6M2 cargo
    59 Soryu total

    Invasion Force (not engaged)
    12 A6M2
    12 B5N2
    24 Zuiho total

    Aleutians Force (North Pacific action only)
    16 A6M2
    21 B5N2
    37 Ryhjo total

    24 A6M2
    21 D3A1
    45 Junyo total

    Main Body (not engaged)
    8 B4Y1

    I count a max of 363 aircraft aboard Japanese carriers in the Midway operations, some of which were either too far away or otherwise engaged.

    I am more that aware of air group complements aboard WWII carriers. One might note that modern carriers are far bigger than WWII carriers, so the relative sizes of aircraft, then and now, to a degree cancel out.

    Don't know, the Royal Navy is not my field of study. I could probably figure it out, but it would be more intellectually satisfying for you to make the determination, after all, it would bear most heavily on your own scenario. Here, make a guess . . . why don't you count up what was available on 3 September 1939, remove what had been lost by, say, 1 August 1940, remove what had been damaged and then add back, oh a good average, say, one third of each type damaged, remove what was stationed elsewhere in the world (you know, the far east, eastern Med, etc.), add back what had been constructed and/or purchased and see what you can come up with. A good guess anyway, certainly as good a guess as the number of Japanese ships making your grand sortie, eh?

    As far as oil is concerned I believe the answers of France and Italy are just a little to facile. Logistics drives the train. How would you plan on getting all these vessels, already low on fuel into a limited number of crowded ports in France or Italy . . . easy to say, but the maps, and the opposition, say otherwise in terms of their ability to get to the ports and the even be serviced.

    This is the problem with this and any what if, the answers to the problems ignore reality and pass off with " oh, why, that's no problem; they'll just . . ." So, while the Japanese are cheerfully draining Europe of #1 diesel fuel, at not more than three, maybe four ships at a time per (how many?) port, one presumes then that the British are just standing by idling and doing nothing?

    Oh, that's right, only the Japanese get to change the rules.

    Far to facile. Probably very good reasons why none of any such silliness ever happened, at least from a logistics-naval standpoint.
  7. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Now you talk about how UK could strike all the Italian and French ports. Sure they could at certain times of the war, as they did, but...My main point was, if the Japanese force came in at the same time as Battle of Britain. Royal air force was already under incredible pressure from Luftwaffe. I do not believe RAF could launch any major strike elsewhere. They were all needed at UK to defend their homeland. If they were to launch major strike against ships in the ports of Italy and France, Luftwaffe would have done a whole lot damage to UK while RAF is gone or at least a large part of them are gone. Do you know how many planes would take to strike a fleet of 200+ warships protected by hundreds of planes?

    On the other hand, it would take just one good strike from Japanese navy to make an opening for German ground forces to make a landing on UK. All they needed to do is to sink lots of British warships. It would be an easy task for the planes from their carriers. RAF couldn't possibility defend both the cities on land and the ships on the sea at the same time. Even if they do, the forces would be divided and making it much easier for both Germans and the Japanese to do more damage.

    Japanese had to choices to reach their destination. They could go up to Mediterranean Sea, where they will be greeted by Italian navy, or they could go around Africa and strike UK from west side which is the opposite direction of where Luftwaffe came from. It could put UK into a situation of fighting two fronts.

    I disagree that many things didn't happen because they couldn't have succeeded. Many things didn't happen was a matter of choice at the time, some might not even be the best choices as we could see afterward. I saw no true team work between the Axis powers in real battle was due to 1. Distance of course. 2. They aren't really working together well because they each had different interesting on what land to seize...in other word, too selfish to be truly team-working with each other in Battles. They had several occasions they could have ganged up on someone together - ex: USSR is another example. But they didn't, not because it was a bad choice, but rather as I already stated, they were selfish because their own interests.
  8. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Just some minor points and random thoughts . . .

    Unless one is willing to sacrifice all ones strike capability, the total of seven Japanese carriers operating at or in conjunction with the Midway operation carried a total of 146 fighter aircraft. All of which would have to be divided up into task units for CAP rotation cycles and, where appropriate, strike escorts. There would be no 146 fighters in the air at one time for fleet defense. (Although if that’s the way you seem to want to run your CAP, it could be optimum from an attacker’s standpoint, if they are all up in the air on CAP now, then they will all be on the deck for re-fueling / re-arming later, right? Not happy for a first wave strike, but a following strike might find itself with aerial no opposition.) You may wish to research the maximum commitment of fighters to CAP at any particular point in time at Midway . . . without checking the numbers myself; I would be surprised if the greatest concentration at one time exceeded 45. It is not as easy as you seem to want paint. And again, in the summer of 1940, there would be a dearth of the vaunted A6M, so the CAP in all probability would be out classed by an RAF strike escort of Spitfires and Hurricanes. And you seem to forget Bomber Command. Certainly losses would be taken, but, frankly, with a preponderance of A5Ms in the CAP, each armed with a couple pipsqueak rifle caliber machine guns, I would not expect them to make much of a dent. Japanese shipborne AA fire was notoriously bad through out the war, so don't look for much help there, either. And, oh, yes, that's right, the Japanese Navy did not even start to roll out an installation of radar on its capital ships until 1942 . . . so, they were going to detect in coming strikes, how? Or do we push up that process to 1939 just to make this work?

    And you might want to re-think the number of warships and auxiliaries the Japanese might be willing to send half-way around the world. Even committing, say, all of the tankers involved in the Midway and periphery operations (18), some IJN vessels would not even come close to having the legs to make the journey . . . there were less than 200 vessels involved in the Midway operation and its periphery (187 to be exact) and a goodly number were mere transports and cargo vessels (23), slow transports and cargo vessels. In such as grand expedition as you describe, a fleet can only move at the speed of the slowest vessel, so how long do you think this grand movement would take? Would they be dragging along, escorting and fueling, all these non-combat vessels? Do you expect the IJN to drag along an equivalent number of submarines as participated in the Midway operation? That would be something along the line of 21 submarines and all the logistics that entails? To what end? If you count up what would be practical for your evolution, what you are really looking at is something along the lines of 5 BB, 4 BC, 13 CA, 10 CL, 4 CV, 2 CVL, 1 CVE, 3 CVS/AVP, 18 AO and as many as 65 DD. And the feet-stuck-in-concrete British would just sit back and do nothing, not even to think about prospects, until the IJN arrives off their happy shores? And if you think this movement would go undetected, you had best guess again.

    And what happens when the basic loads of aviation stores or ship-board ammunition stocks are exhausted? Do you have any idea how many deck loads of strikes a carrier can launch before replenishment is required? You might want to check that out. Here’s a hint, in the summer of 1945, TF-38 operating off the Japanese home islands would spend not more than three days in strikes or shore bombardment, usually two, and then two to three days in underway replenishment - fuel, ammunition, food, replacement aircraft, replacement pilots, whatever was needed - from 10 July to 15 August 1945. Are you aware that the Japanese did not master underway refueling until 1941? Lack of capability might have as much bearing on the journey itself as it would on operations on the scene. And they did not do underway replenishment of ammunition and stores. Don't expect compatibility with German ordnance and I sure the average Japanese sailor would just relish bratwurst and sauerkraut. Oh, wait, not a problem . . . in preparation they can send a couple-three basic loads of everything they need to Vladivostok and ship by Trans-Siberian to Germany and thence to the Channel ports (don't want to get bottled up in the Med, right?). Of course this method of prepositioning would require a certain amount of prescience . . . the Japanese and the Germans would have to know in advance that France and the low countries would tumble as events actually transpired, wouldn’t they. And the Soviets would have to go along with these trainloads of Japanese munitions and supplies (and personnel accompanying same) going all the way across their country . . . but I’m sure they would be cooperative with people they were shooting at just 18 months before, right? For a modest fee. And of course, the Trans-Siberian railroad was not an overnight deal . . . better figure on two, maybe three weeks from Vladivostok to Cherbourg for each train. Without such a prepositioning, though, you'd be left with all these ships with nothing to shoot, airplanes with nothing to drop or shoot, and all, ships and planes, running out of fuel, not to mention sailors running out of food. And, gee, how do you suppose they replace aircraft and aircrew losses?

    You are not suggesting that they force the Suez Canal, are you? Good luck with that concept. Boom, Boom, Boom . . . canal is blocked. And of course if one waits until the carriers are already in transit, so much the better. I suspect the British would be happy to run, oh, picking one at random, the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, often parked in Alexandria, into the canal and scuttle her if it resulted in Japanese carriers stuck, dead stop, all facing north. Anyone want to buy an aircraft carrier? How about a good deal on used airplanes?

    Does anyone remember what happened to the Russians in 1905?

    Logistics, Logistics, Logistics. One little word screws up the greatest of plans.
  9. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Well you still assume the British would know what the Japanese was up to, and you also assume they would have extra forces to deal with the Japanese combined 200+ ships carrier group during the Battle of Britain.

    Like I said, before the Japanese intention is clear, I don't believe the British can risk making a further enemy by make any aggressive move even if they want to. By the time they realized what the Japanese is up to, where do you think the Japanese fleet would be already?

    Then, there is the problem of being tied up by Luftwaffe attacks. Just how could the British spare some forces to deal with the Japanese? They were having trouble to handle just Luftwaffe with all they got.

    I agree the British could block the canal as an option if they noticed the intention of the Japanese fleet early which makes this router inaccessible, but then Japanese fleet could always just go around the Africa, or...they could simply decide to take the British controlled Middle East for its oil. If they pick the second choice, it could have greatly weakened the British Empire's resources, and the transportation between UK and the rest of its colones - ex: India, Singapore, etc. While at the same time the Axis will get an "oil boost". They would have unlimited supply of fuel that's for sure.

    If Japan pick the choice of go around Africa, what was UK going to do? Gather all fleet to meet them? I very much doubt it. During the time of Battle of Britain, it looked like Hitler was going to invade UK. They couldn't and wouldn't send all available ships away from UK. Even if they do, they would have almost no air cover due to RAF was tied up in the fight with Luftwaffe.

    You did talk about ammunition problem for Japanese. Of course they would come with many supply ships. Just how long do you think the Combined Fleet could last at Midway? They had enough ammunition to destroy the entire American Pacific fleet. Bombarding land targets with shells is a totally different story. We are talking about sinking ships, which require much less ammunition.
  10. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    A computer-less weekend and then I discover, oh my, a 10000 character limit . . . well, we will just have to spread out a bit …

    Really, you think? It seems that the premise for your scenario is one where the Japanese are able to covertly move something like 150 - 200 vessels more than half of the way around the world and nobody at all notices? Reality check . . .

    By sea, from somewhere off Tokyo Bay, without going through the Suez Canal and going around the Cape of Good Hope, to an operating area somewhere in the Atlantic southeast of Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula is at least 14,400 nautical miles. Hold that thought . . .

    There are some things you need to understand about the Japanese in the 1940 time period, in general, and some facts of life in naval operations, specifically. These items are those, mentioned before in other posts, in which you, in your scenario - don’t feel bad, most of those who indulge in the “wish to make it so - what if” scenarios make the same errors - blissfully or willfully ignore as their reality do not fit the make believe.

    First and foremost, the IJN had very few of its own dedicated supply/cargo vessels. Most of what did the hauling for the Japanese, well into the war years, were civilian vessels impressed into naval service. I took the time to look into Japanese merchant shipping of the period and it is easy to determine that the majority of any vessels which would be of any value in your scenario had a sustained cruising speed of between 10 and 12 knots - for the sake of argument, an average of 11 knots. You are welcome to perform your own research to refute the finding of my admittedly quick and dirty survey.

    In order for your Japanese Armada to arrive on station and ready for action; ALL the vessels, warships and fleet train (this is what we call the logistics tail of the fleet, the rest of the body as opposed to the head and the fists), would need to arrive in the same general area at the same time. All of them, repeat, all of them. Your theories on how such events could be played out by the Japanese absolutely require that their fleet train must accompany the combat forces else the combat forces would be unable to perform their mission. This means that the fleet and its fleet train would be traveling together, logically in some sort of divisions, but essentially as one big gaggle over a large expanse of ocean. All of the cargo/supply vessels would require escorts, by the way, which seriously erodes one’s combat power in destroyers.

    The important point in this movement, and most any other naval movement, is that it would be governed by the SLOWEST vessel present, i.e., the cargo/supply types trundling at a nice steady 11 knots. Surprise, surprise, remember those 14,400 nautical miles mentioned above? To go that distance, nonstop, at 11 knots would chew up about 60 days - TWO MONTHS. That’s non-stop, allowing for no delays whatsoever. And do you really presume no one will notice something somewhere along their passage; no one even catches a whiff of their passage?

    What to do to even get rolling on a trip lasting two months? Well, first, they’d have to wait for events to take their course in Europe, then decide there is a potential opportunity, perform the staff work putting their plan together (you may also wish to consider how long it took them to put together the Pearl Harbor plan as an example of how slow is this planning process), marshal their forces from wherever and whatever they’re doing, into various ports, brief the major players, lay down the law to the civilian merchant captains, complete initial provisioning and fueling and complete an at sea rendezvous and shove off in their great Armada. Figure another sixty days, minimum, prep time and any training would have to be done in transit. The earliest they could possibly arrive on scene would be late October 1940; far too late in the program.

    And since you seem to think they can shave some time by entering the Mediterranean, to do so would require passage through Suez. From somewhere off Tokyo Bay to Sharm el-Sheikh at the south end of the canal would be about a 7,650 nautical mile passage, at 11 knots, consuming some 30 days, non-stop. This includes dragging this gaggle of shipping from one end of the Red Sea to the other . . . a lot of ships in a very confined space, tactically not very good idea.

    And the British reaction (they did control Suez at the time, you know) to a request for a Suez passage? “No thank you, old boy, not today. You’ll have to go around.” If the British - whom you apparently believe are terminally stupid - had not figured out the Japanese intent before, while this Armada was passing north of Australia or somewhere off the tip of India, or after being tipped by the Americans or the Dutch, they are certainly clear now, aren’t they. And there would be no forcing the canal, it is ridiculously too easy to block. I’ll suggest you look into the events around 1956 for an abject lesson. What would your Japanese commander do? Stomp on his hat? Or would he be prepared to go to war right then and there, with his ships bottled up with little sea room?

    So your Japanese Armada has wasted a month, exposed to all concerned the obvious intent of their entire operation, and now they have to go all the way around the African continent . . . from Sharm el-Sheikh all the way around Africa to their somewhere off Dingle operating area, at least another 10,100 nautical miles, another 42 days; now they’ve spent some 72 plus days at sea.

    And they refueled where? They would have had to refuel, no question about it, probably a couple times. One does not wait until the tanks are dry. And think of the variety of vessels, naval and merchant, their varying fuel capacities - I certainly would not want to be the fleet ops guy who has to work out that schedule, though whoever could do so successfully would be a near logistical genius. So, when, where and how? Not as sea. They’d have to stop, remember, no underway refueling in their doctrine at this time. Alternatively, in which ports (who would let them and under what threats)? How many days would refueling add to the trip? Who was observing all these thirsty ships queuing up at gun point two or three at a time in some obscure port and draining it of any stored fuel? To whom might those observers be reporting? How were you planning to regularly replenish the fuel supplies for 150 to 200 ships multiple times? I guess this is still another issue to continually brush under the table as a mere inconvenience, right? And of course we won’t even talk about victualing and such. The Japanese NEVER performed underway replenishment of common supplies. And just so you know, underway replenishment of munitions was not something even the USN really wanted to do until sometime in 1944.

    Oh, and please, don’t go off you your Middle East oil tangent again, that industry was in its nascent days in 1940, there were no facilities available to refuel that many ships. To even try to access what was available would require entering the confines of the Persian Gulf, to include threading the way through the Straits of Hormuz . . . another wonderful choke point, by the way.

    Of course all of this presumes good weather and steady sea conditions. A couple of good storms and now you have ships scattered all over the ocean. You have heard of typhoons, monsoons, and hurricanes have you not? Your passage, Pacific to Indian to Atlantic Ocean, to meet your late Battle of Britain time frame passes through same those oceans coinciding with the periods when such ugly weather is most likely to occur. Makes command and control just a little difficult. Plays heck on trying to maintain radio silence . . . never mind, you never mentioned radio silence and in reality such would be wasted effort. To round up their scattered charges would require radios otherwise it would be like herding cats.

    Have you looked a globe? A map? A history of the Japanese Navy? Japanese merchant service data? A history of the Middle East? At weather studies? Apparently none of the above. Have you really given serious thought to just how the Japanese and the Germans were supposed to coordinate operations? Your presentations do not sound like you have done so and, bad news, wishing won’t make it so.

    You are aware, are you not that the Japanese ARMY pretty much ran the Japanese government . . . that one fact would nip your entire pipe dream in the bud. And even if the ARMY let the navy go off half cocked on your Japanese Armada scenario, once the Japanese are spotted for the first time - probably by the Americans in the Philippines (you do know that the USN ran regular aerial patrols of the area between Formosa and the Philippines, right?) or by Dutch as they pass through the NEI (who also ran regular air patrols of their waters) - do you not think messages would be flying and that eventually the boys in the striped pants would not be asking, nay, demanding, an explanation, a detail of intent? I don’t think anyone would believe a facile “oh just an around the world cruise” excuse. You may believe everyone is that stupid, but I do not.
  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    You are aware that the range limitations of the Luftwaffe strike aircraft, with one or two exceptions leaves them as non-supporting players over any sea action . . . my suggestion would be that the Luftwaffe would be sufficiently tied up as to be unable to provide any support to the Japanese. That leaves them, the Japanese, somewhat in a lurch.

    Two words, Bomber Command. It was Fighter Command which supposedly had its back to the wall. Bomber Command was alive and well, not to mention Coastal Command and, be still my beating heart, the Fleet Air Arm . . . did you forget about them or have you but tunnel vision for the great dog fights in the sky to the exclusivity of all else? And at the risk of belaboring the point, just where/how are the Japanese supposed to be fueled up so they are topped off for the commencement of combat operations? How many times to you get to cavalierly disregard this most basic issue. In some French port? With what facilities? And you think the British would just let that happen . . . because they could not figure out what was going on? Do you really want to insist that the British are that stupid? How unkind of you. And do you think they would hesitate? You ever hear of a place called Copenhagen and the mere threat of a Danish fleet going over to Napoleon? Or maybe some more recent to the events leading up to the summer of 1940 would provide better example, how about Norway? Or a place called Mers-el-Kibir? Or even Iceland? Pre-emption on the part of the British in their own interest was not at all unusual, they were not shy. If you think they would hesitate for a moment you are sadly out of touch with history and reality.

    Here, you like “what if” fantasies? Let me throw a wrench in your grand dream . . . the US, as your Japanese Armada passed by the Philippines, would certainly notice and would be demanding some sort of explanation. And by the time the Japanese Armada was half way across the Indian Ocean the US would be making “You need to turn around” noises. The Japanese, loath, of course, to lose face, would ignore those messages even after they’ve reached the “or else” point.

    The British, by the way, and you might do well to remember, in the summer of 1940 still had some 14 BBs and BCs, more than the Japanese could bring to the table as we’ve previously identified, and 6 CVs, maybe 7 if they push up commissioning of Formidable by a month, giving them near parity in flight decks to what CVs the Japanese had available in 1940, though, in truth, slightly fewer actual aircraft. CAs, CLs, and DDs would similarly outnumber your expedition and all, of course, would be far more motivated as well. You should not forget submarines, either.

    Nonetheless, by the time the Japanese round the Cape of Good Hope, having ignored diplomatic messages waxing into hard threats, the US Pacific Fleet, from Pearl Harbor and ports all along the west coast of the US, is headed for Panama (not to worry, since the Japanese Fleet isn’t home, right? We can leave the Asiatic Fleet in place along with all the PacFleet submarines and still be reasonably sure there would be no mischief in the Pacific by the Japanese).

    That movement would give US forces in the Atlantic 6 CVs (CV’s 4 and 7 carrying as least as many aircraft as any Japanese carrier, and for CV’s 2, 3, 5, and 6, more than any Japanese carrier); 15 BB; 16 CA; 18 CL; and somewhere around 140 or so DD; not to mention the availability of some 200 fleet train and auxiliary vessels all of which were commissioned USN ships, not some impressed merchant ships. Over half of the fleet train would already be in the Atlantic, not to mention the presence of some real handy naval bases all along the way, so the Pacific Fleet capital ships and their escorts could move with moderate alacrity and, unlike the Japanese, not be particularly worried about their train keeping up. Oh, yeah, and the Atlantic Fleet submarines, 57 of them, would get to play, too - sure, about half are old R boats, but sometimes quantity has a quality all its own. All of these USN forces could come up somewhere east of what was known as the MOMP and slightly west any operating area for the Japanese somewhere west of the British Isles. Yes, I checked . . . Pearl Harbor to somewhere east of MOMP and west of Ireland works out to about 8000 nautical miles or just about 20 days at 17 knots, truly a rather leisurely pace for not being tethered to a fleet train, but not particularly accounting for passage through the Panama Canal. And the Atlantic Fleet, coming mostly from Norfolk, some 2000 nautical miles from our imaginary station, could be on station in about 6 days at 14 knots (remember the Atlantic Fleet is dragging along its fleet train). The US Atlantic Fleet, alone, would include 2 CV, 6 BB, 5 CA, 8 CL, and about 80 DD. The fleet train would include 11 AO amongst a plethora of other auxiliaries.

    All arriving on station, two, more likely three, days before the Japanese even arrive within aircraft range much less at their planned station (sound familiar?), and without firing a shot, the message would be clear . . . “Go Home, Now.” That would end the problem. No matter what the Japanese did, the US Navy, with the benefit of the Panama Canal could move, in force (which is, ultimately, why the canal was built in the first place), to anywhere in the Atlantic or the Pacific faster than could a Japanese force so far along in your presented odyssey as to be somewhere off the coast of south west Africa . . . the math on such movements is pretty easy, you should try it. If the Japanese persist heading on to a station west of the British Isles? Well, I would suggest that no Japanese commander would want to face the problem of being enveloped from the rear, and believe me, he would get plenty of warning, while he was trying to execute some vague plan to assist what was really just a nominal ally, providing coverage for a gaggle of merchant vessels and his own naval forces and while being almost 15,000 miles from home and not a friendly port in sight. This does not sound like a winner to me. And don’t forget, the Japanese had no radar. The Royal Navy did, and at least some of the major capital ships amongst the USN had radar by mid 1940 (and some is better than none). Imagine sunrise one beautiful autumn morning in the grey North Atlantic and the Japanese admiral looks out from his bridge and sees 15 US Navy BBs and their gun-toting and trained-out consorts looming out of the darkness over on his western horizon. Do you think he might get the message or do you think someone might have to explain it to him in excruciating detail? “Turn around . . . go home . . . now . . . will you require an escort?” would be sufficiently clear, I believe. There would be available a sufficient number of US naval officers who also just happened to speak, read, and write Japanese (there really were quite a few such talented fellows) to insure there would be no possibility of a misunderstanding of intent or consequences.

    And before you start down the road of “the Americans would not or could not” remember, in reality, neither would nor could the Japanese indulge in your scenario.

    Oh, and gee, how do you suppose the German high command is going to communicate with the Japanese high command exactly when and where they should have the fleet on station and operational in time to support some version of Operation Sea Lion? By radio comes to mind, but exactly how? Or are you going to make up some sort of pre-planned liaison of German operators and code machines somehow magically appearing aboard the Japanese flagship or, vice-versa, Japanese code books and operators appearing in Berlin? Anything to make the fantasy work, right? Want to try something rational? Oberkommando der Wehrmacht to Japanese embassy in Berlin to Japanese Foreign Ministry to Imperial High Command to the fleet at sea, and back around; cumbersome, but effective, communications, right?
  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    See above. This is another non-starter. And exactly how many troops are you expecting the Japanese to drag along with them, on this supposed purely naval strike force, just in case, as you have now apparently decided? And just what makes you think the Imperial Japanese Army, thoroughly mired in a no-end-in-sight war in China and committed to keeping massive numbers of troops to watching the Russians, will be willing to contribute still more troops to an around the world cruise on the off chance some admiral (and the reality of the Imperial Japanese forces was that the Army, literally, hated the Navy and the feeling was enthusiastically returned), on the spur of the moment, wants to throw them ashore - - - in a desert? Are you not just adding another unlikely level of complexity to the fantasy?

    So, even if the Army was so inclined to provide troops, how many would be provided? A company, battalion, regiment, brigade, an entire division, how many? How would they be equipped? Would they be hauling everything they need for desert operations (copious amounts of and facilities for storage of water comes to mind . . . no plastic bottles of spring water in 1940) and would they also be hauling along what they might need for European operations - otherwise there is no real point in their making the voyage. So more transport with mutually redundant and in some cases mutually exclusive equipment required, not to mention carting around all the necessary landing barges for however many troops and their equipment - you know, artillery, horses (like the Germans, the Japanese Army was heavily horse dependent, perhaps even more so, don’t you know), tentage, picks, shovels, FOOD, and AMMUNITION, all that paraphernalia. Yes, landing barges would certainly be necessary; one cannot depend upon the presence of sufficient port facilities, can one. Always presume the worst case scenario and plan accordingly. And the Army would certainly be interested in knowing how are you planning on sustaining these troops once ashore? Is there another “fleet” of transports with replacement troops, ammunition, food, and equipment following along somewhere and on a specific schedule? Oops, you just lost some more of your CLs and DDs, maybe even a CV, to escort duty . . . and are you now prepared to fight your way past the NEI, Australia, and India in order to maintain a troop presence in the Persian Gulf? Making it up as you go along, in military and naval operations is the key to magnificent, history-making failures.

    And just how are you planning to get your captured “oil boost” as you seem to think you can to the other Axis allies? In which ships are you planning to move this oil? The one’s you’ve dedicated to your fleet operations? Oh, that’s a good idea. Wait, wait, I know, you can use the now empty army transports . . . note to self . . . don’t forget to bring the empty oil barrels . . . and commandeer more cargo ships. You are aware that the Germans were not the only ones with submarines trolling about are you not? And when you send off all your tankers to deliver your largess, how are you planning on getting them past the Royal Navy? Contrary to your fantasy, the Royal Navy was not sitting around with all its ships gathered and hunkered down at Scapa Flow to face an invasion threat; no, there were, indeed, forces on patrol and duty around the world. You should read up on it sometime . . . may I suggest a gent named Roskill? And, in your Middle East invasion/oil snatch fantasy, be assured the US, and so the USN, would not stand by idly while you try to run stolen oil to Germany.

    See above, fantasy countered with better fantasy. It would not come to that.

    I am fairly certain that I have a better handle on how long the Kido Butai could operate off Midway than most. You really need to do more reading, a lot more reading. You obviously have no concept or comprehension of the thousands and thousands of rounds expended blowing holes in the water in the course of major fleet surface actions as compared to a very small percentage of telling hits. And did you ever hear about the ships that ran out of AA ammunition in the Mediterranean? The results were extremely unhappy. Again, broken record time for I have yet to see a coherent response to the question, how are you planning on getting ammunition from the holds cargo ships to the magazines of warships when the Japanese had no underway stores replenishment doctrine? . . The obvious choice is to come to a stop in the middle of the ocean and lash your warship to your cargo ship . . . that does not seem to be a really good idea once hostilities have commenced. Remembering that Japanese ASW practice and execution was amongst the least effective in WWII, picture Kongo or Akagi wallowing in the north Atlantic swell, with only enough headway to remain stationary, as ammunition is slowly winched up and hoisted aboard out of an alongside cargo ship’s hold. Can you say “torpedoes”? Just think how very exciting it would be for HMS Triumph (N18), LCDR WJW Woods, RN, commanding, to torpedo and blow-up said ammo ship while it is parked beside an aircraft carrier with all that lovely gasoline, a triumph, indeed. Gee, I guess you’ll have to come up with something better than side-to-side transfer, what might that be?

    This is it for me. You want to chew up the bandwidth with make believe, go right ahead. But you should at least keep the scenarios within the realm of possibility. As I said in my original response to your scenario, “what ifs” require a suspension of reality and rationality. These trivialize the very factors which would effectively make the “what if” border on the ridiculous in the real world. Your example is typical - - - you present the Japanese as being ten feet tall and able to accomplish something they could not have done even at the very height of their power. At the same time you present the British as mental dolts and hand wringers unable to get their feet out of the cement and take action. History shows otherwise and your characterization borders on the offensive. The realities, and only the major ones at that, which would doom such an enterprise as you present before anyone ever put pen to paper for an operations order or, more likely, recovered from a night of copious consumption of sake, have been presented. Yet your solutions to these problems are, frankly, flippant nonsense. At the risk of getting in trouble here, what you are propounding is a pipe dream fantasy with facile solutions, to the point of extreme silliness, as dismissal of real world problems. You really have not evidenced the possession of a clue as to orders of battle, doctrine, the complexities and realities of fleet movements (in especially logistics) or amphibious operations and are, apparently, in your cavalier brushings asides, equally in the dark on international diplomacy or national imperatives.
  13. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    First, there is no need to be so aggressive in your counter argument. We are having some discussions for fun. Your almost sound like hostile toward me in many of your posts.

    Second, you still assume UK had enough resources to engage a 200-ship fleet elsewhere during Battle of Britain. They did not. Royal Navy were not even at one place at the time, they kept large fleet at home to prevent a possible German invasion, while remaining ships were scattered all over the places. I never denied the fact Japanese fleet would have been spotted from very early on. It is just nobody would be in position to stop them.

    Third, I merely opened the (possible) options or rather routers for the Japanese fleet. Why do you always have to assume the worst for the Japanese? If they know it's a bad choice to go through the canal, they would just directly go around Africa. Is it necessary to assume they will go up first then turn around later? That is impossible. You are also assuming they will take the farthest router by not going straight line or near straight line. What's with the 42 days just to go around Africa? It takes only a month to go from China to the U.S. by ship during that time, which was covering enough distance halfway across the world.

    Fourth, So you claim UK had enough bombers to launch attacks against a fleet...while their fighters were tied up by the Germans. Ok, lets just go along with you on that one. But, what is the chance of success for unescorted bombers to win against a carrier fleet? I thought it was a quite clear scenario in Battle of Midway. Multiple unescorted attack on Japanese fleet by American bombers had failed.
  14. Domoviye

    Domoviye New Member

    Personally I love what if scenario's, but this one is rather unbelievable.
    The Japanese navy was operating near the limits of their capabilities when they attacked Pearl Harbour, trying to go through the Indian Ocean, around Africa, and along the European coast was beyond their offensive capabilities. Where would they dock to resupply? They can't efficiently resupply on the ocean, that's why even today navies need safe and friendly ports.

    Also if the US didn't declare war on Japan, for attacking Britain, the US was antagonistic to Japan. As the Japanes fleet is heading into the Indian Ocean, the American Pacific Fleet goes to Japan and 'politely' tells Japan they're going to have a nice, friendly discussion about China and other problems.

    Japan had to protect its home islands, sending even just it's aircraft carriers that far away would be the largest roll of the dice in history, and the dice are loaded.

    Since you like alternate history so much, you may want to look at
    http://www.alternatehistory.com/, it is devoted to stuff like this and the discussions can get really involved.
  15. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    You are not understanding the basic issue here.

    The battle of Britain was won by the British because they had invested heavily in air defence systems, aircraft production and pilot training. They had massive defence in depth.

    The Germans started out the battle of Britain with nearly twice the frontline strength of the RAF, but the RAF could build aircraft and replace pilots twice as fast. Even with three times the aircraft the end result would of been the same, as long as British aircraft production and pilot training could replace the losses at faster rate - Germany and Japan lose.

    Also bear in mind that Japanese carriers, like those of the USN, were designed for fleet action out of range of land aircraft. The British land based aircraft would of quickly destroyed them.
  16. groundhugger

    groundhugger Member

    Logistics , Logistics , Logistics .....Fuelling that size a Fleet ! , remember the 'Russian Japanese War' the Russians did something the same only in reverse pre WW1, in this case it just wouldn't be on , there was no way at all they could have supported the Germans ! they wouldn't have even tried.
  17. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    Yes, the Russians were able to send their Baltic fleet to the Far East because there were NEUTRAL coaling stations all along the route. The ships burned COAL

    The 1930s to 1940s, the Japanese fleet burned OIL. I do not see a lot of neutral oil along the route.

    There was, however, a very limited traffic through the war of SUBMARINEs between the Axis powers through the war.

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