From: Ft. Lewis Washington
ORIGINAL: mike scholl 1
ORIGINAL: SimHq Tom Cofield
It's pretty obvious that after June of 42 that Japan would never take Hawaii. But did they ever have a chance? Maybe in December 1941 they had a shot but even then. I do not know the speed of WW2 troop ships but I cannot imagine them keeping up with the KB.
What do you guys think? Did Japan ever have a shot at it?
will post here since this is the legitimate question.
Personally no. I think others have posted good points but here are a couple of mine.
1. There was no assumption of success at Pearl Harbor. In some respects the attack was specatular beyond what the planners had hoped but there were still multiple CAs and CLs in service, at least the Pennsylvania could have sailed rather quickly once out of drydock. Within 24 hours the US could have managed to set sail with 2CAs, 3CLs and probably a dozen DDs. Maybe the Pennsylvania if she could be provisioned and sent out quickly. The KB would have had to stick around and take care of these ships, along with the other BBs still in port but locked behind sunken ships and rest of the air power left on the island. While the attack crippled the USAAC on the island not all of the aircraft were completely destroyed and probably 40-75 aircraft could still scramble within 24 hours. Aircraft repair facilities were still intact on the island. That means the KB would not have been in a good position for continued support of the invasion once the act of sinking all remaining fleet assets as well as remaining aircraft was done. Add to that the knowlege that the USN still had her carriers at sea and assuming they would be steaming at full speed to support the Navy. The KB would have to keep something back to deal with the US carriers when they ultimately did appear.
2. The IJN invasion fleet would probably have had to sail from Japan. The Marshalls were just not set up to handle such a large invasion force in waiting. A force that big would have had to be trained, provisioned and loaded onto ships. It would take days to weeks to load them from a large port, the Marshall Islands didn't have facilities large enough to do this. Adding to the troubles would be the need to sail 3800 miles to Hawaii. A fleet that large probably would make, at best, 12 knots when you consider the weather. That's almost two weeks at sea. If the force had to go to the south due to the weather it probably would be longer. Not ignoring the fact that the transport force would be made up of the best troop transports in the IJN you would still have to somehow keep two to three divisions of troops combat capable over that time. The Pacific in December is not a hospitable place and 30 thousand seasick troops would have a hard time doing much of anything. Troopships are not cruise liners.
3. To support a fleet that big would require pulling warships off of duty in other places. It might undermine attacks in Malaya. It is easy to assume that the Prince of Wales and Repulse would have been sunk now but there was no body of knowlege that stated such ships would be lost when attacked at full speed, at sea. The Japanese had to support their invasion force with a powerful surface fleet just in case. Likewise any attack on the Phillipines could have been interdicted by the US Asiatic fleet, although it was pretty much scattered. Many of the warships that were supporting other invasions and would have been needed to support the invasion fleet. Again, it would never have been assumed that the US Pacific fleet would have been destroyed at Pearl Harbor so the IJN would have had to plan for at least a half a dozen battleships, cruisers and destroyers attacking their transport fleet. Even a couple of cruisers and a handful of destroyers would have reaped havoc among a minimally protected invasion fleet.
I don't think that anyone in the IJN or IJA seriously thought they could take or hold Hawaii. It would have required the diversion of resources desperately needed to take the DEI or New Britain later. Even the attacks on Malaya could have been disasterous if the support ships were gone 5,000 miles away. For the assault to work too many things would have had to go right repeatedly, something that rarely, if ever, happens in wartime. Via hindsite it was possible to get troops ashore, maybe but who knows.
Well stated and thought out. Only thing I'd dissagree with is the "12-knot" invasion convoy. While the Japs certainly had some attack transports that could manage this, they lacked any attack cargo vessels and would be using impressed merchant steamers. With these involved, I'd say a "9-knot" convoy was more likely. All in all, it was an operation that might work in a wargame, but not in real life (or even a good simulation game.).
I was being generous with my assessment. Having said that, the IJN would have probably used their best transports for the invasion.
Thomas S. Cofield
Feature Editor, SimHQ.com email@example.com
(stopped the SimHq mail since I get nothing but spam)