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OT - why not coal steamships?

 
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OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/5/2013 10:37:39 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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A somehow off topic question:

Would it had made sense for Japan to convert its entire merchant fleet from oil to coal? as a way to reduce its dependency to foreign crude.

As far as I know, there is abundance of coal in China... and cargo ships do not require very high speed performance. That said, I don't know how feasible this could be

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/5/2013 10:57:29 PM   
wdolson

 

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I believe navies converted to oil in the first place because oil was overall a much better fuel. For one thing being a liquid, it was much easier to feed into the engines. Oil fueled ships also had more range per ton of fuel.

Another thing is burning oil produces less smoke which is a big plus when you're trying to avoid enemy submarines. Coal powered ships were visible from a longer distance than oil fired ships.

That's just my WAG off the top of my head. I've never read anything one way or the other.

Bill

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/5/2013 11:04:36 PM   
Cannonfodder


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The engineering lay-out of a coal ship is substantially different then an oil ship. Coal is dry. It is not a liquid.

They might have build "new" ships based on coal but I doubt if they could have converted the existing ships...

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/5/2013 11:09:19 PM   
Bullwinkle58


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Cannonfodder

The engineering lay-out of a coal ship is substantially different then an oil ship. Coal is dry. It is not a liquid.

They might have build "new" ships based on coal but I doubt if they could have converted the existing ships...


There were a lot of smaller coal burners in Japan's merchant marine. Subs found them easily due to smoke. They were mostly coast-wise steamers in the 2000 tons range. Not many left by late war.

As you say coal is a whole different naval architecture problem than oil. The coal has to be stored close enough to the boiler for stoking; oil tanks can be far away. Coal has a different density which affects righting moments. It can also shift in high seas and is harder to baffle than a liquid tank.
Lots of ships converted from coal to oil between WWI and WWII, but I don't knwo of nay which went the other way.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 1:13:45 AM   
mike scholl 1

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Jorge_Stanbury
Would it had made sense for Japan to convert its entire merchant fleet from oil to coal? as a way to reduce its dependency to foreign crude.

As far as I know, there is abundance of coal in China... and cargo ships do not require very high speed performance. That said, I don't know how feasible this could be



In HINDSIGHT there is something to be said for your point. But according to pre-war Japanese projections, there wasn't going to be any major oil shortage (as with ALL Japanese pre-war planning, there was a lot of wishfull thinking involved). By the time they realized they had an oil problem, they were also realizing they had a LOT of other problems (like the marine engine problem that had over a million tons of their already inadequate merchant shipping sidelined for repair in 1943). What would have really "made sense" for Japan was not to start a war with the Western powers at all..., but then we wouldn't have a game.

< Message edited by mike scholl 1 -- 1/6/2013 1:14:04 AM >

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 1:40:43 AM   
ilovestrategy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mike scholl 1

(like the marine engine problem that had over a million tons of their already inadequate merchant shipping sidelined for repair in 1943).


Dang, I never knew that. That had to have hurt. I'm trying to comprehend the magnitude of that, and they didn't have enough shipping as it was. What happened, did they run their ships into the ground because of no time for maintenance? Kinda like the KB by May.


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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 4:39:25 AM   
PaxMondo


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I read somewhere that many of the SC designs had engines that could burn either coal or oil.  As someone else noted above, the delivery systems are completely different.  And coal is a lot more bulky.

I do not know how often, or if it was in fact even used on an SC.  But, given the late war fuel shortages coupled with the need for SC's to operate, I am going to bet that they did use this.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 5:44:37 AM   
crsutton


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I would recommend reading "Castles of Steel" about the WWI naval war. You can get a good idea of the limitations of coal as a fuel source there. Plus have a great read.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 9:45:47 AM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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thanks a lot

I also found that their projects to convert coal into fuel (Fischer–Tropsch process) failed miserably compared to Germany's


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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 12:58:32 PM   
RisingSun


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Im pretty sure Japanese had some ships still using coal instead of fuel.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 1:32:11 PM   
KMCCARTHY

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: crsutton

I would recommend reading "Castles of Steel" about the WWI naval war. You can get a good idea of the limitations of coal as a fuel source there. Plus have a great read.


I second that! There was another that covered the Great War which was also good.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 1:57:18 PM   
MineSweeper


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Also believe that the Japanese tapped/cut into Pine trees and used Terpintine to run engines...

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 2:31:57 PM   
PaxMondo


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mike scholl 1

... What would have really "made sense" for Japan was not to start a war with the Western powers at all..., but then we wouldn't have a game.

Funny, I was just thinking about this recently.

Playing this game as IJ, even though I always knew IJ never had a chance in the war, what I have really come to understand is how woefully unprepared they were even though they knew it was coming. So many <obvious> things that they could have and should have done. I mean I start a game and it takes me until Mar 42 to get the economy in shape and then another 6 months to get the forces up to 1941 standards. So, here I am in late '42 and I'm finally ready to wage war ... 10 months or so after "I" started it. Weird to say the least. Of course by this time the allied war machine is starting to come on line.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 4:37:17 PM   
crsutton


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quote:

ORIGINAL: RisingSun

Im pretty sure Japanese had some ships still using coal instead of fuel.



I think pretty much everybody did in some capacity. In the 1970s I worked with a South African 2nd mate who served on a square rigger early in the war.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/6/2013 6:41:20 PM   
Symon


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quote:

ORIGINAL: crsutton
quote:

ORIGINAL: RisingSun
Im pretty sure Japanese had some ships still using coal instead of fuel.

I think pretty much everybody did in some capacity. In the 1970s I worked with a South African 2nd mate who served on a square rigger early in the war.

Yes. Everyone's merchant marine did in one form or another, depending on how old the vessels were. The Japanese reverted to coal in '43/'44 in smaller Naval vessels because of the oil shortage. But it wasn't as simple as coal v oil. An intermediate technology was a composite boiler system (1920s) where oil was sprayed onto a coal charge as a booster. It is unclear whether the later war "coal fired" ships were pure coal, or composite.

Japanese (and Manchurian) coal was mainly Lignite in composition (technically "brown" coal). It had a lower specific heat content (lower speed) and a higher sulphuric impurity content (smoke and gunk in the stacks). The Japanese tried to implement briquette production techniques for turning Lignite into quasi-Anthracite in the late 20s, but failed.

Coal grades are just like gas grades. There's good and not so good. And Japanese/Korean/Manchurian coal was not so good.

Ciao. JWE

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 12:46:34 AM   
Q-Ball


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IIRC, Symon is right. In the WWI-era, the IJN imported Welsh coal, because it was anthracite coal; you needed high-grade coal that burned at high temperatures for warships

The coal in Asia was plentiful, but all low-grade; it burned very dirty, and very inefficiently on ships. this made all coal burners a slow, easy to spot target

One thing the Japanese did do out of desparation was burn unrefined fuel in warships; I beleive before Lingayen Gulf, the IJN refueled at Borneo on unrefined fuel. It burned very dirty, gummed up the engines, and overall was not satisfactory, but beggars can't be choosers.....

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 5:24:43 AM   
wdolson

 

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Today Japan and China are buying large amounts of US coal from Wyoming because it is much cleaner and better quality than what is available in Asia. Just after the earthquake in Japan I started seeing massive trains loaded with coal headed west. The BNSF mainline through the Columbia Gorge passes right through my town.

As far as being prepared, what really changed in the 20th century was what the attacked did in wars. In the 19th century and before, most wars were of limited scope and the attacker would punch their neighbor hard, then the neighbor would sue for peace. It happened in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, the Spanish-American War, the Mexican-American War, and the last was probably the war between Japan and Russia in 1906. But there are many other wars that fit this pattern of relatively short spats that were resolved by some territories switching hands.

In the early parts of WW II, WW I was mostly seen as an anomaly. It was thought that mobile warfare would result in more quickie wars. The Germans had some early victories that made it look like that was the pattern for the 1940s too. They did take out Poland, Norway, Denmark, and the Western European countries in short order. They got stopped at Britain, but then they didn't really have the naval assets to take on a defended island nation with a big navy.

Japan was bogged down in China, but every time they wanted to take more territory, they didn't have much trouble doing so. In the early going in the SRA and elsewhere it looked like it was going to be a short war. They were taking on an empire that was already conquered (the Netherlands), another that was already stretched to the max (the UK) and one that most of the world thought was a second rate military (the US).

The derision the Axis powered had towards the US is laughable today, but it was very real in 1941. I recently read something about what the German top people were saying to one another about the US in 1941. Hitler laughed at Roosevelt's aircraft production quotas, even though his quotas to date had been met. The idea the US could be producing 100,000 planes a year by 1944 was considered the punchline to a joke. Herman Goering remarked that the only thing Americans could build were refrigerators.

Many of Japan's top military people thought that the large influence women had in the US made Americans weak. If they smacked the US hard enough, they figured the US with their heavy female influence would run away. Yamamoto knew better, he had traveled around the US and knew it better than any other top leader in Japan. He is famous for his prediction that he would run loose in the Pacific for six months, then from then on it would be a mater of trying to hold onto the gains.

Yet another factor we can't get today is that democracy was not universally seen as one of the most stable forms of government as it is today. Democracy was a fairly rare form of government in the 1940s. Outside of the Commonwealth, US, and western Europe, it was almost unknown.

The Axis powers pretty much considered democracies fatally flawed forms of government that could be brought down if the country was hit hard enough. The UK changed governments the day Hitler invaded France. Though the UK ended up with a far stronger PM than the one who fell. It was a close run thing. Parliament almost picked a pro-Nazi to be PM instead of Churchill.

20/20 hindsight going to war with the west is seen as insane. In the mindset of Axis leaders in 1939-1941, it's not as crazy a prospect as it looks now.

On Dec 6, 1941 the US was deeply divided about getting into the war with the isolationists out numbering those who wanted to fight. Pearl Harbor was the first time anybody saw how a democracy with a divided public responded to a foreign attack on one of their biggest naval bases. As it turns out, it served to instantly turn a huge number of isolationists into war-hawks. Before it happened, it was hard for the Japanese to know for sure what would happen.

There are rumors Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor and let it happen. I'm not convinced of that, but he knew his country much better than the Japanese did and he could predict more accurately what would likely happen if the US was attacked. If he did know and kept quiet about it, it was a good bet on his part how public opinion would shift.

Bill

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 11:17:27 AM   
GreyJoy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Q-Ball


I beleive before Lingayen Gulf, the IJN refueled at Borneo on unrefined fuel. It burned very dirty, gummed up the engines, and overall was not satisfactory, but beggars can't be choosers.....


Correct!

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 11:18:16 AM   
mike scholl 1

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: wdolson

On Dec 6, 1941 the US was deeply divided about getting into the war with the isolationists out numbering those who wanted to fight. Pearl Harbor was the first time anybody saw how a democracy with a divided public responded to a foreign attack on one of their biggest naval bases. As it turns out, it served to instantly turn a huge number of isolationists into war-hawks. Before it happened, it was hard for the Japanese to know for sure what would happen.

There are rumors Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor and let it happen. I'm not convinced of that, but he knew his country much better than the Japanese did and he could predict more accurately what would likely happen if the US was attacked. If he did know and kept quiet about it, it was a good bet on his part how public opinion would shift.

Bill



A lot of good points made here Bill..., but please don't help perpetuate these two myths. By December, 1941, the "isolationists" were down to a rather vocal 30-odd percent of the American Public. Under the pressure of master communicators and wordsmiths like Roosevelt and Churchill, the need to pull our heads out of the sand and face the reality of doing something about fascism had grown steadily since the middle of 1939. What Pearl Harbor did was to change the American Public's attitude from a reluctant acceptance to rabid enthusiasm.

And the idea that Roosevelt "knew" PH was coming is ludicrous. What he did know was that Japan attacking the US would be like the "98-lb weakling" kicking sand in the face of the "Incredable Hulk". Americans in general viewed the world in economic terms, and economically Japan was a joke. What they failed to understand was that the Japanese viewed the world in spiritual terms, and felt that "spiritually" the US was a joke. The ignorance on both sides is more than enough explanation for the outbreak of the war without letting the "conspiracy nuts" into the equasion.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 11:54:20 AM   
Dili

 

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An example of use of coal in new constructions was the 800t Krieg transportern KT cargo ships.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 12:04:52 PM   
wdolson

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: mike scholl 1

A lot of good points made here Bill..., but please don't help perpetuate these two myths. By December, 1941, the "isolationists" were down to a rather vocal 30-odd percent of the American Public. Under the pressure of master communicators and wordsmiths like Roosevelt and Churchill, the need to pull our heads out of the sand and face the reality of doing something about fascism had grown steadily since the middle of 1939. What Pearl Harbor did was to change the American Public's attitude from a reluctant acceptance to rabid enthusiasm.


I've read that it was closer to 50/50 among the public on the eve of the war, though it may have been 30%. To an outside observer from a different culture, the US still must have seemed deeply divided even if it was just 30%.

quote:


And the idea that Roosevelt "knew" PH was coming is ludicrous. What he did know was that Japan attacking the US would be like the "98-lb weakling" kicking sand in the face of the "Incredable Hulk". Americans in general viewed the world in economic terms, and economically Japan was a joke. What they failed to understand was that the Japanese viewed the world in spiritual terms, and felt that "spiritually" the US was a joke. The ignorance on both sides is more than enough explanation for the outbreak of the war without letting the "conspiracy nuts" into the equasion.


I did say I did not believe Roosevelt knew, but there are a number of sources that have made a case that the people in DC may have known some details they did not reveal to their commanders in the field. I think the scale of the attack and the exact means took everyone by surprise, but the Japanese diplomatic code was compromised and Washington had some idea Japan was up to something. Ultimately I have seen good arguments on both sides of the controversy and my only conclusion is maybe they knew something more than they let on. On the other hand, maybe not.

We can agree to disagree.

Bill

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 12:11:01 PM   
spence

 

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quote:

Japan was bogged down in China, but every time they wanted to take more territory, they didn't have much trouble doing so.


So...why exactly didn't they just...win their war against China? Bored? Nothing else to do perhaps?

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 1:29:08 PM   
wdolson

 

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quote:

Japan was bogged down in China, but every time they wanted to take more territory, they didn't have much trouble doing so.


quote:

ORIGINAL: spence
So...why exactly didn't they just...win their war against China? Bored? Nothing else to do perhaps?


They could defeat the Chinese army in just about every battle, but they didn't have the manpower to control the conquered population, so it was a very leaky empire. I once read an axiom for occupations take 20 troops per 1000 population if there is no active resistance. If there is more than that, you need more troops to put down the rebellion. Only one occupation in the last 100 years was successful with less than that ratio (Japan after WW II, the US initially had very high occupation levels, but quickly dropped down to 6 per 1000 because the Japanese made it clear they were willing to cooperate). Every other successful occupation had at least 20 per 1000.

With less than that ratio, the occupation troops can't control enough of the conquered territory and an insurgency can get started.

Ultimately Japan could never completely control their territory in China even though they proved time and time again to be dominant over the Chinese army in the field. That's why the war dragged on, it became a game of whack a mole.

Bill

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 3:07:25 PM   
fcharton

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: spence
So...why exactly didn't they just...win their war against China? Bored? Nothing else to do perhaps?


What would be the point? China was extremely poor, just feeding one's troops was a problem. So once you had your supply arranged in some place (through plundering, and deals with the local warlords), why move and have to start all over?

Besides, the KMT was defeated, the CCP was just another warlord in a totally desolate area (Yenan), and Japan occupied all the important cities. There was no war to win, or lose, in China.

Francois

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 3:58:51 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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But an interesting, if rhetorical question... why not leave?

I believe if Japan just quit China (not including Manchukuo) and Indochina, the US would had cancelled the oil embargo.

That said, we all know the kind of people that would accepted this deal were, by the late 30s either retired from public life, silenced or assassinated.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 5:30:04 PM   
mike scholl 1

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: wdolson


quote:

ORIGINAL: mike scholl 1

A lot of good points made here Bill..., but please don't help perpetuate these two myths. By December, 1941, the "isolationists" were down to a rather vocal 30-odd percent of the American Public. Under the pressure of master communicators and wordsmiths like Roosevelt and Churchill, the need to pull our heads out of the sand and face the reality of doing something about fascism had grown steadily since the middle of 1939. What Pearl Harbor did was to change the American Public's attitude from a reluctant acceptance to rabid enthusiasm.


I've read that it was closer to 50/50 among the public on the eve of the war, though it may have been 30%. To an outside observer from a different culture, the US still must have seemed deeply divided even if it was just 30%.

quote:


And the idea that Roosevelt "knew" PH was coming is ludicrous. What he did know was that Japan attacking the US would be like the "98-lb weakling" kicking sand in the face of the "Incredable Hulk". Americans in general viewed the world in economic terms, and economically Japan was a joke. What they failed to understand was that the Japanese viewed the world in spiritual terms, and felt that "spiritually" the US was a joke. The ignorance on both sides is more than enough explanation for the outbreak of the war without letting the "conspiracy nuts" into the equasion.


I did say I did not believe Roosevelt knew, but there are a number of sources that have made a case that the people in DC may have known some details they did not reveal to their commanders in the field. I think the scale of the attack and the exact means took everyone by surprise, but the Japanese diplomatic code was compromised and Washington had some idea Japan was up to something. Ultimately I have seen good arguments on both sides of the controversy and my only conclusion is maybe they knew something more than they let on. On the other hand, maybe not.

We can agree to disagree.

Bill


I don't think we even dissagree, Bill. More a question of semantics. Rosevelt and a lot of other people in the Government and the Military were pretty sure Japan was getting ready to do something. But what? Most still couldn't quite bring themselves to believe that a 3rd rate economic power like Japan would willingly attack the United States. Britain and the Dutch possibly, but why would they drag America in and guarantee they would be overwhelmed? Others suspected that they might be crazy enough to attack the Philippines and Guam. But Hawaii? Only a few alarmists in the Navy even speculated on that. Virtually all the "I predicted..." stuff comes from selective memories after the fact.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 5:34:34 PM   
mike scholl 1

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Jorge_Stanbury

But an interesting, if rhetorical question... why not leave?

I believe if Japan just quit China (not including Manchukuo) and Indochina, the US would had cancelled the oil embargo.



Actually I believe the US demand was only that they back out of Indo-China before the oil tap would be turned back on. The Japanese mis-read it and thought it referred to all of China as well. Stupidity and misunderstanding were rife on both sides.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 10:39:39 PM   
pompack


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mike scholl 1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Jorge_Stanbury

But an interesting, if rhetorical question... why not leave?

I believe if Japan just quit China (not including Manchukuo) and Indochina, the US would had cancelled the oil embargo.



Actually I believe the US demand was only that they back out of Indo-China before the oil tap would be turned back on. The Japanese mis-read it and thought it referred to all of China as well. Stupidity and misunderstanding were rife on both sides.



Can't recall the reference (it might have been Tolland: Rising Sun) but there was a translation error (perhaps deliberate depending on just how conspiracy-minded you are) that referred to "Manchuria and North China" in the note send by SecState Hull to the Japanese government; this was interpreted by the Japanese as referring to Manchukuo as well as China itself.

In a seperate instance, there are indications that Roosevelt intended the oil embargo to be the last step in negotiations about Indochina instead of the first step; once the note was issued calling the embargo Roosevelt purportedly told Hull that it would have come to that in the end anyway but don't do it again. Hull admitted that he had not read the note carefully since he knew what it was supposed to say. In the 50's this was blamed on the Communists in the State Department.

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RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 10:40:45 PM   
spence

 

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quote:

They could defeat the Chinese army in just about every battle, but they didn't have the manpower to control the conquered population, so it was a very leaky empire.


I have not studied the conflict in China to any great degree. Just by coincidence the Combined Fleet website has recently posted a number of articles regarding the IJN's participation in the China Conflict. The Battles of Changsha (1,2,3 although the IJN only played a significant part in #1) were all Japanese defeats...seems like bogged down is a better description than "but every time they wanted to take more territory, they didn't have much trouble doing so."


(in reply to mike scholl 1)
Post #: 29
RE: OT - why not coal steamships? - 1/7/2013 11:59:55 PM   
fcharton

 

Posts: 949
Joined: 10/4/2010
From: Nemours, France
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Jorge_Stanbury
But an interesting, if rhetorical question... why not leave?


"Face" would probably be the best one word answer...

A large part of the Japanese rethoric revolved around them replacing the western powers as the regional hegemon. Yielding to the demands of one of the western colonialists, over territories Japan had colonised for decades (Manchuria), which they considered as a protectorate (China under the Nanking regime), or where they had found an agreement with another axis power (Indochina under Vichy, even though the "agreement" wasn't quite agreed upon by every one), would be a loss of face.

@spence, re Changsha
The battles of Changsha (esp. the third) were hailed as decisive victory by the Allies, because they happened at a time when Allied victories were scarce. After the war, the Chinese made them into larger than life epic (if you read any Chinese history of the War of Resistance, you might wonder how, after so many decisive victories, there still were Japanese in China in 1945...), but inconclusive, is probably the best characterization. The three times, the IJA advanced, reached the city, and fell back once they found their supply lines threatened.

Francois

(in reply to Jorge_Stanbury)
Post #: 30
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