Japanese Strategies

Gary Grigsby's strategic level wargame covering the entire War in the Pacific from 1941 to 1945 or beyond.

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madflava13
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Japanese Strategies

Post by madflava13 »

Byron, this one's for you. I'm going to list and comment on a couple of the Japanese player's possible avenues for war. If anyone wants to counter, cool, if not, this thread will die and we can keep the party line on Production going...

1. Traditional approach (Attack through the Phillipines into Dutch East Indies.
This is my favorite, as it secures the oil that Japan needs, kicks the snot out of a good chunk of US/British forces, and opens up several other avenues. The bases in the area are fairly easily secured, even Singapore, so losses are light. Once the Indies are taken, the player has an option of going after Australia through Timor, if the momentum is there. This is generally how I play (I know I'm vanilla, but it works.)

2. Semi-Traditional: Same as above, but instead of going for Australia, the Japanese wheel right into the Indian Ocean. I don't like this approach very much to be honest. The British/Indian forces don't pose much of a threat until 1943/44 so I don't like to tie up my assets (CVs, APs) in this theater - I feel it gives the US too much time to build up defenses in the islands and SW Pacific.

3. Attack through the Aleutians into Alaska: Bad Bad idea. There's nothing up there that really helps the Japanese. There's no resources, no big concentration of Allied Forces to eliminate, and no sea lanes to interdict. I'd give up alaska any day to the japanese as the allies. They want to waste forces there, by all means, take it.

4. Central Pacific Thrust: Risky, but potential huge payoff. I don't like the distances between bases such as Wake, Midway, Johnston. There's no way for the Japanese to take effectively support the attack with ground based air, and it takes too long to build up the bases with engineers. This one's on the flat-tops all the way, and that means they're awfully far from home and fuel is always an issue. Maybe an effective tactic right away, combined with a Pearl strike, but I tend to shy away from this approach.

5. Thrust to the SW Pacific: A less risky but still bold move. Capturing the main oil/resource centers in Indochina/DEI at the same time is still possible, but the Jap player must sacrifice some of those SE Asia early conquests in order to move into the SW. If the Japanese take this route, the key is New Caledonia and Espirutu. Espirutu is key for protecting N.C.'s flank from surprise US CV attacks, and needs to be built up as fast as possible. Caledonia should get a couple regiments of fighters, and then all the Betties you can cram in there. If successful, then Australia is not hard to cut off and (maybe) take later on. The main problem is taking these bases, then going back to finish off the oil centers, all the while the US is picking at the perimeter with the CV TFs...

I generally stick with the traditional approach, since thats the reason the war was fought (resources). (I agree with you on that completely Mr. Snake!) Anyways, thats my take, let me know what you think.
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Post by byron13 »

Thanks, big guy, I luv ya for it.

Unfortunately, I'm at work, so I can't respond. My guess this turns out to be a popular thread.

One question: Alaska is certainly a waste land, but what of the idea of diverting forces from China to a land campaign in North America originating in Alaska? It would be an interesting scenario. Japan's about as far away from Alaska as California is. Just curious whether you think the Japanese could have done anything. I guess in reality, they just didn't have the merchant fleet to support such a large expedition so far away. But if you did it in 1941 while America was still weak . . .
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Post by madflava13 »

I think Japan had the sealift to go after Alaska, and certainly the US forces in the early stages of the war would not have put up much of a fight, but attacking in the north almost guaratees that the attacks in the south (and the capture of oil/resources) would be delayed almost indefinitely. Japan simply didn't have the sealift capactiy for a two pronged attack like that. Considering the low levels of Japanese oil reserves (I think they had a 6 month supply, but don't quote me on that), going for Alaska first wouldn't help them at all.. BTW, does anyone know when the Prudhoe Bay strike was made? Suppose Prudhoe Bay and the oil in Northern Alaska was found pre-1941... Then the Japanese could go after the Alaska and get oil... Thats deep supposition and some rambling thought on my part, but its an interesting "what if?"...
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Post by byron13 »

I think Prudhoe Bay was post-war. In any event, since it is on the northern coast, I'm betting that the technology did not exist to extract the oil in such a cold clime. Plus they would have had to have shipped it out from the Arctic Circle rather than pipe it south. I'm guessing Prudhoe is iced in half the year at least.

It would be interesting, though, to see what would happen if they concentrated on the mainland U.S. and ignored the southern Pacific. With the scramble to defend the continental U.S., I don't think we could have produced much of a threat to strike Japan from Australia or the Indies. I'm guessing that Japan could not have supported a large enough force in Alaska given the limited ports to really threaten the U.S. But the psychological blow would have been immense, and the public would have been panicked. Yeah, bomb Pearl Harbor, capture Hawaii, base the Japanese fleet there with a gazillion ground-based aircraft, and then shift north to Alaska!

Guess I'll have to try that one out when the game finally comes out - with the alternative production option.
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Post by Greg Wilmoth »

They knew there was oil on the Alaskan North Slope back before WWII. Remember the Teapot Dome Scandal during the Harding Administration? Teapot Dome was in Wyoming, but the same program that set it up as a Naval Petroleum Reserve reserved some tracts on the North Slope.

I doubt the Japanese had the pipeline technology. The German U-Boat menace was what drove the construction of the Big Inch and Little Inch pipelines from the Texas oil fields to the Northeast US during the war.

Also remember there is/were no railroads connecting Alaska to the lower 48 states. The ALCAN (Alaska-Canada) highway was built in '42 in case the US lost control of the sea routes. It was and still is pretty primitive.
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Post by madflava13 »

I was going to write this in Production, B.O.H.I.C.A, but it fits in here better... (And I want my little topic to stay alive!)
Just a quick question. When you say Japan could not have won the war, what do you mean? Obviously they couldn't have defeated the US by destroying all our ships or merchant fleet, etc. But Japan never intended that. She simply planned on a quick strike, fortification of the gained territories, and assumed the Allies would sue for peace eventually... That didn't work, but it could have. I think Japan got greedy and then became overextended. Lets say the player secures the Phillipines and D.E.I., then sits and protects them (and the merchant fleet)... That could be winnable...Thoughts?
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Post by Doug Olenick »

Mad,

IMHO, taking those areas would not be enough to be considered winning. The trick is not taking them, but holding them against the US, a US that is enraged over the Pearl Harbor attack. The Japanese, given their historical resources and manufacturing capacity, could never have defended their gains against what the Allies would field.

Perhaps a scenario where PH is ignored might work differently.

The only way for a Japanese player to "win" is to hold out for a certain time or inflict a certain amount of damage on the Allies.

As far as strategy is concerned, there are several ways in PacWar for a bold Japanese player to win or at least make the Allies fight a different type of war than what actually took place. Playing both the computer and human opponents I have invaded Seattle, thus eliminating a large amount of heavy bomber production. Japan does much better without 800 B-29s hitting the Home Islands every night in 1945.

Another good move is to totally sever the US/Austrialia shipping lines early on by taking Noumea/Efate/American Samoa etc. and building up the air bases. This can be done with a couple of divisions.
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Post by Ringbolt »

The Japanese could never have "won" the war because of Pearl and Bataan. The US population would never have accepted a negotiated peace even with high losses IMO.

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Post by madflava13 »

Skeets, I respectfully disagree with you. I think if Japan kept its land forces and naval units in a closer perimeter (say Truk & Rabaul are the outlying bases), I think they could have held out a lot longer... They had an awful lot of troops in islands and in New Guinea, as well as Burma, China, etc. that could be used. Thats a goodly number of troops/planes to throw against any US attacks...Eventually, the US would outproduce Japan. Thats a given. But I think if Japan doesn't overextend, the war could have dragged out until the late 40s, maybe even the early 50s...
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Post by byron13 »

Oh, madman, what are we going to do with you. You are truly deranged.

No question that the Japanese miscalculated. WWII was the first total war with complete mobilization of the economy. Germany didn't even switch to a fully mobilized economy until 1944. Based on history to that point with regard to mobilization and the fact that western wars tended to be negotiated settlements with the ruler remaining in power, etc., I can see why Japan (except Yammamoto) was not expecting the incredible industrial onslaught (dare I say that we even surprised ourselves?) nor a war requiring unconditional surrender. I'm not sure anyone could have anticipated that. So, yes, they miscalculated and they may have gotten away with just attacking the D.E.I. without drawing us into war, but attacking the Phillipines was sure to bring us in.

Once in, they may have thought that what you are suggesting was possible. Make the war bloody enough and we'll negotiate a surrender. Pearl Harbor unexpectedly changed all of that. Once we were committed to the extent we were, starting with less extended lines of communication and more concentrated forces wouldn't have changed much. While the first few operations in which we learned how to invade islands would have been fiascos or disasters against well entrenched forces, we would have been starting from a much more forward point and have fewer islands to take to get within striking distance of Japan. We wouldn't have had the ugly slugging match in New Guinea, either. We would always have the unique ability to concentrate our forces at the point of attack, and we could still isolate entire portions of the ocean with submarines. Once production really got ramped up at the end of '43, it just wouldn't have mattered.

What would have made it dicey is having essentially equal carrier strength. Without a Midway, Japan might have really screwed up an invasion attempt or two and caused the war to run an extra year. And I will admit that concentrating their air forces in a smaller perimeter would have been more difficult. I wouldn't want to have to reduce an island stuffed with Betty's and Zeros with just carriers. But I really think that the reduced distance the U.S. would have to cover would, by 1944, offset the defensive advantages the Japanese would have. No Tarawa, no Guadalcanal, etc.

The good news is, you'll get to find out when the game is released.
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Post by Chiteng »

What puzzles me is WHY Japan felt they had to invade the Phillipines. There is nothing there!
They could have bypassed it and simply starved them out OR ignore them. After the native people
start dying of starvation that would exert alot of
pressure on MacArthur to just surrender.
Without gas, those airfields are just non-areable
land. The planes are just statues.
The Naval Base yeah it would be nice to have
and the US subs could make it a pain but
after a while the accumulated stores would
get used up. Frankly I dont see any reason at
all to invade those islands. Maybe I am missing something.
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Post by byron13 »

Skeets:

So you actually took Seattle once, huh? I think I took Hawaii once. Actually, I think I've only played the Japanese once. How long were you able to hold on? Where did you stage from? I can't remember the map, but it would seem that you would have isolated everything in Alaska - especially if you held Pearl as well. Interesting. I guess you stick a couple of big divisions in there and it takes forever to root them out. And it certainly distracts the American. Yes, interesting. Unrealistic in real life, but certainly possible in PacWar.
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Post by Ringbolt »

Chiteng,

I have wondered that myself and the only thing I can think is that it was political. Maybe the idea of bypassing bases was somehow against the Bushido code? I dont know. Does anybody know of any time the Japanese bypassed an Allied base?

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Post by madflava13 »

Byron,
What I was assuming was a reduced perimeter, more of a focus on ASW, and perhaps unleashing the Japanese subs against US merchant shipping... The Japanese can ignore the Indian theater for a long time, focusing air and sea units in the Central Pacific. Lets say Truk and Rabaul are at the same strength they were historically, but behind them are several more of the same type of strongholds? Toss in the Japanese fleet and Air arm, and thats a real defensive perimeter. From the Carolines, or Marianas, the CVs could be on scene of any Allied invasion within a week, and you can't tell me that the entire Jap Naval Air Arm at full strength (remember they're training the whole time too) can't destroy a US invasion... Once TF 38/58 are built up to 1944 levels with all those Essex CVs, the US can focus enough force to start taking bases. But that means the island hopping campaign doesn't start until 1944, and it can't move as quickly because you always have to worry about the Jap fleet (something the US didn't really have to do after 1943 historically). That extends the war well into the late 1940s...
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Post by byron13 »

I think the Japanese took the Phillipines because, from there, the U.S. could interdict all of the seaways leading to Indochina and the Indies with both subs and aircraft. I doubt you could starve out the population, but I guess you could cut it off from military resupply.

Why is anyone questioning the decision? They took it easily enough, and it seems to be a natural bulwark against an invasion of Japan from the south.
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Post by Doug Olenick »

The time I took Seattle against a real opponent I attacked in Jan. 1942 with about four divisions and most of the Combined fleet. I staged out of Paramushino. Fighting the computer I usually take Dutch Harbor and a base on Alaska along the way. The computer fights poorly and I have held out in Wash. until the Allies cave in around 1944 and agree to peace talks.

Against a real opponent secrecy is a must so I just head straight across the northern Pacific with every AO and TK I can gather. I also don't try to hold it. I'm not sure about the newer Pacwar versions, but in the original factories could not be rebuilt after being taken over by the enemy. I go in, destroy the factories then pull most of my forces out. Sort of a raid in force. Or I stage a fighting retreat back through Alaska. I've also tried this much later in the game, with little success, usually as a desparate gamble to pull US forces away from the Western Pacific for a short period. Sure is fun to burn down all those future Seattle coffee shops!!!

Mad,

I think your method might make for a much different war, but without destroying the Allies ability to fight the Japanese cannot win or even force them to sue for peace. Yammamoto was right in throwing the dice several times to try and destroy the bulk of the US Fleet as soon as possible.

My suggestion is to check your strategy by playing it out with Pacwar. Certainly not a perfect example, but as close as we can come.

As your opponent I would simply occupy islands around your perimeter, build up the bases and attrit your forces for a year or so while the US Navy builds up. My subs would fill the sea between the Home Islands and the oil fields and destroy the IJN merchant fleet.

Then around mid 1944 I would strike directly at a few choke points to totally cut off your supply. When the IJN fleet came out my 10 or so CVs and 7 CVLs with 18 or so BBs would wipe it off the map. Remember, the Japanese would not be able to keep the same level of training up because of a dearth of resources. This is exactly what happened during the war.

Just for fun I've set Pacwar up to play out a scenario where the war starts in June 1944 and Jan. 1945. The Japanese never come out ahead. Even when I attack a Philipine Island stronghold where all the airfields are built up and manned with high experience air units.
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Post by Chiteng »

RE: Byron,

I question the decision because I dont see it
contributing to the war effort.

There is nothing in the Phillipine Archpalego
that you need to prosecute the war.

Air interdiction would stop after AV Gas ran out.
I think it must have been FEAR. The southern
island of Japan is just barely in range of the
B-17. Maybe they believed all the hype.

If something doesnt contribute to the war effort
I tend to ignore it, in any game.

In the board game WITP Manilla is a 'Major' naval
base, and subs can only base out of 'Major' naval bases. That is the sole reason for invading it.
(unless you want the resource center)
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Post by byron13 »

Skeets: Well said.

There is some merit to madman's strategy, though. For propaganda reasons, the U.S. could not have waited two years to mount attacks against the Japanese. We could have spent some time fortifying across the line, but the public would have expected some action. As I said, I think these early attacks could have been real debacles. Another problem is that, depending on where the line was, the U.S. fighters had such a short range (until the P-38 was out) that we would have had problems reducing their bases. Remember, their air power is now concentrated on a shorter perimeter. Even massing our few carriers would have been sporty against a base full of torpedo-laden Bettys.

But Madman is ultimately WRONG!!!! Silly boy.

Chiteng:

1. I think you've got to diffentiate game play from reality. A game cannot possibly simulate all the effects of a base in your rear. In reality, there is no way the Japanese could leave untouched the largest American base west of Hawaii that lies abreast of their critical sea lanes. The base had several American divisions and a strong air presence. It would have been unthinkable to have B-17s freely patrolling the sea lanes and bombing merchant vessels. Long range reconaissance would have been invaluable for tracking Japanese movements. The subs could have been serviced at any one of the thousands of islands making up the archipelago by any sub tender. And there are all of the imponderables. And the Philippines were large enough and advanced enough to at least partially fill the need for military supplies. I know I wouldn't have just left it sitting there. Why didn't the Allies just invade Sicily and Italy and leave North Africa to wither on the vine? I don't know how long the avgas or munitions would have lasted, but long enough that the Japanese would have ignored it.

2. There is also the threat of resupply. The plan to invade was made and even set in motion before Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor may not have been as successful as it was. If it weren't, U.S. plans were to gather the fleet and steam to the Philippines with an expected surface battle somewhere just to the east. If Pearl hadn't been as successful and the Japanese had not taken the Philippines, they could have been faced with a reinforced and very dangerous major American base right in the middle of their empire and blocking access to the resources that were the very purpose of the war. Nope, doesn't work in my book regardless of how it works in games. In fact, it is inconceivable to me.
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Post by byron13 »

Madman:

Somehow I missed your last post. I acknowledged all of the considerations that you mentioned. And it would've been ugly early-on if we didn't have a Midway-type success against their carriers, which would've been unlikely. But when you figure that 1942 and most of 1943 were spent retaking islands that you apparently are not even going to occupy, it doesn't set the Allies back that far back from the historical timetable. The only differences I see are that 1) the Japanese carriers are more likely a threat and have to be dealt with, and 2) the U.S. would have been less experienced when tackling the main line. But they probably would have gotten experience somewhere so that, by mid 43 they are hitting the easier points in your line.

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Post by Ringbolt »

Byron,

B-17's patrolling the seaways are bad, but why not destroy them on the ground as they did, and then let Mac rot? Sure they took it easily but to what gain?

The idea that they were stopping the U.S. fleet from steaming over after hostilities started is a better reason, and all I would need for a reason now that you mention it. I dont see anything that was there in 12/41 as a major threat, but taking it away as a naval base is worth the effort.


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