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Thread: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

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    Default Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    http://www.upa.pdx.edu/IMS/currentpr...n_Downfall.pdf

    Yes gas, poison gas, to get the Japanese defenders that would have been dug in all over Japan if we had invaded.

    This and Gen. Marshals idea of using atomic bombs to clear the beach heads would have made even the bloodbath that would have happened even worse.

    It’s a very interesting read.

    Deaf
    “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” Ayn Rand

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    Default Re: Operatiion Downfall and the use of GAS

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    http://www.upa.pdx.edu/IMS/currentpr...n_Downfall.pdf

    Yes gas, poison gas, to get the Japanese defenders that would have been dug in all over Japan if we had invaded.

    This and Gen. Marshals idea of using atomic bombs to clear the beach heads would have made even the bloodbath that would have happened even worse.

    It’s a very interesting read.

    Deaf
    It's just my opinion, but I doubt very seriously that poison gas, especially during the monsoon season, would have been all that effective. US forces in the Pacific had precious little experience in the widespread use of poison gas under any circumstances.

    Nor, I suspect, would atomic weapons have had much effect in the tactical role; especially since almost all the Japanese troops would have been dug in, in prepared fortifications, in particularly mountainous terrain that is characteristic of southern Kyushu.

    I think the fighting on Kyushu would have much more closely resembled that of Okinawa than the campaign on Luzon. The kamikazes would have most likely been much more effective than on Okinawa, if only because so many of the novice pilots that were lost on the long overwater flight to Okinawa, would actually be more likely to strike their targets near Kyushu. There would be no way to deploy radar picket ships to give warning of kamikaze attacks as at Okinawa.

    Again, just my opinion.

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    I think the monsoon season in Japan is not in November Wizard.

    As for A-bombs, I sure hope Gen. Marshal was not thinking ground detonations, as talk about dirty bombs. But who knows, he might considering that is what would be needed to get to the caves. An earthquake.

    Deaf
    “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” Ayn Rand

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    I think the monsoon season in Japan is not in November Wizard.
    I was thinking about Operation Coronet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    As for A-bombs, I sure hope Gen. Marshal was not thinking ground detonations, as talk about dirty bombs. But who knows, he might considering that is what would be needed to get to the caves. An earthquake.

    Deaf
    I don't know the details of how the atom bombs might have been used in a tactical role in either the Kyushu or the Kanto Plain operation. An air-burst detonation would make little sense since it would only affect troops out in the open, which surely would be a small minority of the Japanese defenders. Even bunkers with moderate overhead protection would protect all but those in very close proximity to ground zero.

    Conversely, a ground-level detonation would have a much smaller effective area and the effects would be restricted by terrain features on anything but a completely flat plain. Only those caves or fortifications in very close proximity (a matter of a few hundred yards) to ground zero would be likely to be collapsed by a ground detonation. To produce even moderate ground tremors, an atomic explosion would have to be deep underground, something I don't think the Allies had the technology to accomplish in 1945.

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    The Allies certainly had the technology to accomplish deep-ground detonation in 1945.
    Grand Slam.
    One of those casings with a nuclear payload would, I suggest, provide a more than adequate subterranean detonation and explosion.

    The wisdom of doing such a thing: I call into question.

    The feasibility thereof: I have no doubts.

    Kind and Respectful Regards my friends, Uyraell.

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    The Allies certainly had the technology to accomplish deep-ground detonation in 1945.
    Grand Slam.
    One of those casings with a nuclear payload would, I suggest, provide a more than adequate subterranean detonation and explosion.

    The wisdom of doing such a thing: I call into question.

    The feasibility thereof: I have no doubts.

    Kind and Respectful Regards my friends, Uyraell.
    I'm not so sure that the mechanism of an atomic bomb, which was quite different and quite a bit more complex than the explosive and fuse in a grand slam bomb, would survive the tremendous impact necessary to bury it deep enough, especially in rocky terrain, to achieve the desired effect.

    The Grand Slam bomb was designed to undermine the foundations of buildings, bridge piers, and heavy fortifications by creating a crater or cavity underneath, or very near, those foundations, resulting in their collapse. This really wouldn't be of much help in knocking out caves and other underground fortifications that typified Japanese defenses, some of which extend a hundred feet or more underground and featured reinforced concrete shoring and blast shields.

    A nuclear blast might destroy cave entrances if they were within a few hundred yards of the detonation point, but the Japanese typically connected their caves and firing points with numerous tunnels having a dozen or more entrances. It would, in effect, be using atomic bombs to destroy a handful of bunkers and cave entrances, while leaving the underground portions of the fortification complex intact. The US would have had only a dozen or so nuclear devices, and to use them successfully in a tactical role they would have to guarantee knocking out entire fortification complexes over a wide area of several miles at least.

    It's my opinion that in the mountainous terrain, with bedrock very near the surface, of southern Kyushu, atomic weapons wouldn't be effective in destroying significant portions of the Japanese underground fortifications.

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    The terrain of deployment is a highly relevant factor, I agree there, Wizard.
    The fusing issues with an atomic bomb are somewhat less complex than might be thought.

    We are long accustomed to the knowledge that both A-bombs as dropped were "air-burst" weapons, detonating 60 or 80 feet above ground, and that they did so reliably.
    But, that same accustomisation to the above information tends by it's own nature to blind us to the secondary characteristics of both A-bomb fuses: they could detonate at impact if necessary.

    I'd respectfully suggest that since that is so, then it would not have taken much to reinforce the ground-impact detonation system to survive impact and cratering for long enough to be effective, thus detonating the now below-ground A-bomb.

    As I said above, I agree the terrain is a highly relevant factor, but then too it was equally relevant at Beilefeld, and at the V2/A4 dome in France.
    Both areas are cross-grained with ridges, and both would focus much of an atomic blast upwards to the atmosphere, yet I'd think there'd be sufficient of the blast having an effect to be terrifying even so.
    And the Grand Slam was successfully dropped at each site.

    Kind and Respectful Regards Wizard my friend, Uyraell.

    "Honi-Soit Qui Mal'Y Pense." :
    "Ill unto he who ill of it thinks."
    Edward III, Rex Britania, AD1348.

    "Wenn Schon, denn schon."
    "Be It Done, Best be It Be Done Well."
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    "Until you have looked into a veteran's eyes and actually seen it,
    you'll never fully understand."
    ^Uyraell^

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    "^Winged Ones^ : Love or Wrath."

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    The terrain of deployment is a highly relevant factor, I agree there, Wizard.
    The fusing issues with an atomic bomb are somewhat less complex than might be thought.
    I can't agree with this.

    Both atomic bombs which were actually used on Japan were quite complex in their arrangement, and the detonating fuse for the chemical explosive was probably the simplest part of their mechanism. The bomb used at Hiroshima relied on bringing together two small (a few pounds each) masses of fissile material to form a critical mass. The "gun type" bomb did this by using essentially a gun barrel to fire one mass into the center of another mass thus achieving a mass of critical proportions.

    The "implosion type" bomb, used at Nagasaki, was more sophisticated and used a very complicated layer of chemical explosives wrapped around a hollow sphere of plutonium to crush or "implode" the sphere into a tightly packed density of critical mass. In either case, if the body of the bomb were deformed in the slightest, as often happened on ground impact, it was highly likely that the internal mechanism for achieving critical mass might be impaired. Such impairment would almost certainly cause the bomb not to work, or to work in an inefficient manner, causing a low grade detonation of greatly lessened power.

    For example, the precise arrangement of the chemical explosive in the implosion bomb was crucial because the shock wave of the explosion front had to be symmetrical and arrive at the fissile core at precisely the same instant over the entire surface of the core. Just the slightest variation in the way the chemical explosive detonated, or it's physical shape upon detonation, would throw the symmetry of the shock wave off sufficiently to cause failure of the bomb. In the gun type bomb, the slightest warping of the gun barrel would be sufficient to cause the projectile mass to be slowed down and cause only a partial explosion in the critical mass, seriously degrading the yield of the bomb.

    With bombs relying exclusively on detonation of a mass of chemical explosive (i.e.the grand slam bomb), deformation of the body of the bomb does not matter as long as the fuse works while remaining in substantial contact with the explosive mass.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    We are long accustomed to the knowledge that both A-bombs as dropped were "air-burst" weapons, detonating 60 or 80 feet above ground, and that they did so reliably.
    Actually, the Hiroshima bomb detonated in an air burst at the altitude of 1,900 feet. The Nagasaki bomb detonated in an air burst at 1,650 feet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    But, that same accustomisation to the above information tends by it's own nature to blind us to the secondary characteristics of both A-bomb fuses: they could detonate at impact if necessary.
    Both atomic bombs used on Japan, had radar altimeter fuses and barometric pressure fuses to produce an air burst. The necessary radar antennas were attached to the bomb's tailfin assembly. There was an impact fuse in each bomb, but it was strictly a back-up fuse; if the atomic bomb detonated at ground level, the scientists all felt that much of it's power would be dissipated in digging a crater.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    I'd respectfully suggest that since that is so, then it would not have taken much to reinforce the ground-impact detonation system to survive impact and cratering for long enough to be effective, thus detonating the now below-ground A-bomb.
    It's not the actual fuses or fusing systems that I'm referring to, but the bodies of the bombs themselves. Unlike chemical explosives which can be highly deformed and still be effective as long as they remain in contact with their fuses, the atomic bombs rely on the separate parts of the internal mechanisms of the bombs remaining in exact relationship to each other in order to function as designed. No matter how hardened the external bomb case, extreme impacts of the sort required to dig a grand slam bomb in deep enough into the earth to be effective, are almost certain to slightly warp or distort the position of the internal parts of an atomic bomb. The explosive "lens" of an implosion type bomb, if only slightly distorted, will explode, but will not produce the precision in the explosive wave front required to properly compress the fissile material and achieve critical mass.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    As I said above, I agree the terrain is a highly relevant factor, but then too it was equally relevant at Beilefeld, and at the V2/A4 dome in France. Both areas are cross-grained with ridges, and both would focus much of an atomic blast upwards to the atmosphere, yet I'd think there'd be sufficient of the blast having an effect to be terrifying even so. And the Grand Slam was successfully dropped at each site.

    Kind and Respectful Regards Wizard my friend, Uyraell.
    I have no doubt that any atomic bomb detonated in any terrain, at any altitude, would be terrifying to anyone nearby who witnessed it, but the question really is, how many dug in and protected defenders would it kill or permanently incapacitate, and over what area would such an explosion destroy underground fortifications to the extent that they would be of no use in repelling an invasion?

    I'm not at all convinced that comparing the success of the grand slam bomb in destroying missile storage/launch facilities in Europe is useful in determining the probability that an atomic bomb would be equally successful in destroying deep underground fortifications in Japan.

    Best regards,
    Wizard

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Well guys, I'm sure the RAF could have got 1000 Lancasters to pattern bomb the invasion beaches with Grand Slams. Now THAT would have taken care of the caves!

    In fact, I wish at Iwo Jima they had done just that using B-29s to carry the Grand Slams and maybe have stopped alot of them from using the caves.

    Happly, the Japanese surrendered and we didn't have to try moving soldiers over radioactive ground or firing mustard gas shells into caves (for you see that is how they would have delivered the gas, with shells.)

    Deaf
    “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” Ayn Rand

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    I have no doubt that any atomic bomb detonated in any terrain, at any altitude, would be terrifying to anyone nearby who witnessed it, but the question really is, how many dug in and protected defenders would it kill or permanently incapacitate, and over what area would such an explosion destroy underground fortifications to the extent that they would be of no use in repelling an invasion?
    Rounded death rates for Hiroshima were:
    - within 500 metres of hypocentre - 90% on day of detonation; 98% total
    - 500 to 1000 metres of hypocentre - 59% on day of detonation; 90% total
    - 1000 to 1500 metres of hypocentre - 20% on day of detonation; 45% total
    - 1500 to 2000 metres of hypocentre - 11% on day of detonation; 23% total
    - Average 0 to 2000 metres of hypocentre - 37% on day of detonation; 56% total
    http://www.hiroshimacommittee.org/Fa...imaBombing.htm

    From that we can infer that about 90% of troops above ground within 500 metres of the hypocentre would be killed on the day of detonation, and the rest wouldn't be likely to be able to put up much resistance. About 60% between 500 and 1000 metres would be killed, with perhaps a small proportion of survivors able to put up effective resistance. For practical purposes, given the enormous reduction in defenders within a radius of about 1000 metres of the hypocentre, it would be a relative walkover for the vastly more numerous attackers, subject to what is said later about them being at risk of radiation sickness.

    So, if the weapon is detonated in the middle of a two kilometre front where the enemy has concentrated his troops, the attacker gets a huge advantage from it. However, one would need to know the disposition of defenders to know whether that would have been likely. Given the opportunities for wide fronts and defence in depth, the Japanese may not have had any or many choke points where an atomic bomb would have conferred such an advantage on the Allies.

    I have no idea what the effect of being in a weapon pit up to deep in a cave would have in reducing casualty rates. There might be some indication here, from the shielding effects of buildings.
    http://www.rerf.or.jp/cgi-bin/frame....&page=Chapter7

    Against any sheilding effect is the consequence of coming out of caves to fight and the constant exposure anyone in a weapon pit or, presumably, cave mouth would experience following the detonation:

    Anyone staying within 1 kilometer of the hypocentre within 100 hours of the explosion was seriously affected by external exposure to gamma rays of induced radiation; therefore, those who were not exposed to the initial radiation but entered the city to aid victims or search for relatives and those who lived in the range of radio*active contamination were affected by residual radiation.
    http://www.hiroshimacommittee.org/Fa...imaBombing.htm

    Allied troops entering the area would also be subject to the same risk and reduction in efficiency, and probably a greater reduction in efficiency than the enemy as they need to engage in vigorous exertion while the enemy sits in static positions. The longer the sick enemy delays the attackers, the sicker and less efficient the attackers become.

    I have some recollection that there was to be a delay between detonation and moving Allied troops into the area but I can't recall what it was, assuming I'm correct in thinking there was to be a delay. The knowledge about radiation effects was pretty primitive at the time so it would have been a somewhat arbitrary figure.

    Tactical use of atomic weapons would have produced a tactical dilemma for the Japanese. By the time the Allies were invading the Japanese would have been well aware of the effects of radiation, but with no understanding of what reduction might be caused by weapon pits, bunkers, caves etc. A commander would be faced with the choice of hoping that sufficient troops at the detonation site survived in fighting condition to present an effective defence or reinforcing with fresh troops who would then succumb to radiation sickness and become less effective. The better choice would be to use the fresh troops in an uncontaminated area, but this then means that the defender is no longer fighting on the ground and from the fortifications of first choice and has limited time and resources to construct fortifications and move men and materiel into the new defensive position. This significantly improves the attacker’s ability to overwhelm the defences with fewer casualties. Assuming, of course, that the attacking forces have not moved through the detonation site and acquired radiation sickness, in which case they will be of reduced efficiency which may cancel out any disadvantage the defender suffers by having to create quickly a new defensive position.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 08-17-2010 at 07:15 PM.
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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Rounded death rates for Hiroshima were:
    - within 500 metres of hypocentre - 90% on day of detonation; 98% total
    - 500 to 1000 metres of hypocentre - 59% on day of detonation; 90% total
    - 1000 to 1500 metres of hypocentre - 20% on day of detonation; 45% total
    - 1500 to 2000 metres of hypocentre - 11% on day of detonation; 23% total
    - Average 0 to 2000 metres of hypocentre - 37% on day of detonation; 56% total
    http://www.hiroshimacommittee.org/Fa...imaBombing.htm

    From that we can infer that about 90% of troops above ground within 500 metres of the hypocentre would be killed on the day of detonation, and the rest wouldn't be likely to be able to put up much resistance. About 60% between 500 and 1000 metres would be killed, with perhaps a small proportion of survivors able to put up effective resistance. For practical purposes, given the enormous reduction in defenders within a radius of about 1000 metres of the hypocentre, it would be a relative walkover for the vastly more numerous attackers, subject to what is said later about them being at risk of radiation sickness.

    So, if the weapon is detonated in the middle of a two kilometre front where the enemy has concentrated his troops, the attacker gets a huge advantage from it. However, one would need to know the disposition of defenders to know whether that would have been likely. Given the opportunities for wide fronts and defence in depth, the Japanese may not have had any or many choke points where an atomic bomb would have conferred such an advantage on the Allies.

    I have no idea what the effect of being in a weapon pit up to deep in a cave would have in reducing casualty rates. There might be some indication here, from the shielding effects of buildings.
    http://www.rerf.or.jp/cgi-bin/frame....&page=Chapter7

    Against any sheilding effect is the consequence of coming out of caves to fight and the constant exposure anyone in a weapon pit or, presumably, cave mouth would experience following the detonation:


    http://www.hiroshimacommittee.org/Fa...imaBombing.htm

    Allied troops entering the area would also be subject to the same risk and reduction in efficiency, and probably a greater reduction in efficiency than the enemy as they need to engage in vigorous exertion while the enemy sits in static positions. The longer the sick enemy delays the attackers, the sicker and less efficient the attackers become.

    I have some recollection that there was to be a delay between detonation and moving Allied troops into the area but I can't recall what it was, assuming I'm correct in thinking there was to be a delay. The knowledge about radiation effects was pretty primitive at the time so it would have been a somewhat arbitrary figure.

    Tactical use of atomic weapons would have produced a tactical dilemma for the Japanese. By the time the Allies were invading the Japanese would have been well aware of the effects of radiation, but with no understanding of what reduction might be caused by weapon pits, bunkers, caves etc. A commander would be faced with the choice of hoping that sufficient troops at the detonation site survived in fighting condition to present an effective defence or reinforcing with fresh troops who would then succumb to radiation sickness and become less effective. The better choice would be to use the fresh troops in an uncontaminated area, but this then means that the defender is no longer fighting on the ground and from the fortifications of first choice and has limited time and resources to construct fortifications and move men and materiel into the new defensive position. This significantly improves the attacker’s ability to overwhelm the defences with fewer casualties. Assuming, of course, that the attacking forces have not moved through the detonation site and acquired radiation sickness, in which case they will be of reduced efficiency which may cancel out any disadvantage the defender suffers by having to create quickly a new defensive position.
    The caveat here is that the above casualty figures correlated with the distance from the hypocenter (ground zero) applies only to the defenders who might be caught above ground and out in the open. As on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, most of the defenders would be underground or at least protected from blast, heat, and the worst of the radiation unless the attack happened to somehow catch them off guard and above ground. At most, probably only a few hundreds would be directly affected by the atomic bombs.

    That doesn't bode well for the effectiveness of tactical nukes. In fact, it would appear that a tactical atomic bomb would mostly effect the civilian population of the area under attack. The Japanese military had no plans to evacuate civilians on Kyushu, but were going to use them as support troops. Given the nature of Japanese defensive fortifications in the latter part of the war, I would opine that tactical use of atomic bombs would turn out to be a massive waste of valuable resources.

    My recollection is that the Manhattan Project scientists had advised waiting 48 hours before allowing American troops into an area where a nuclear device had been used. We now know this would have led to significant American casualties from radiation exposure. Only those Japanese troops who had been caught above ground at the time of the explosion, or who subsequently ventured out in the open, would be exposed to serious radiation; even a few feet of soil or rock overhead would protect against serious radiation exposure.

    Do you have a source that indicates gas would be introduced into the underground fortifications by use of artillery shells? Or are you just surmising that would be the method? It doesn't seem to be a very effective way of using poison gas. On Iwo Jima, I believe, the plan was to lay down a gas barrage on the surface of the island, and then land specially trained troops who would pump gas into the fortifications through the ventilation openings. The Japanese would counter, of course, with gas masks and protective clothing, which probably would become less effective as the gas concentration became increased with time.

    It was Roosevelt who vetoed the use of gas on Iwo Jima out of concern for world public opinion.

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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Wizard, I apologise for having given inaccurate altitudes of detonation for both A-bombs.

    I did read Leslie Grove's very informative tome some years ago, and yes, I'm reasonably familiar with the detonation mechanisms in each case.

    My point with regard to the Grand Slam casing is that it was designed to survive impact without distorting (It was, in effect, battleship armour,).
    The way I thought about it was: put a nuclear payload in a non-distorting casing, and one then has a very useful though admittedly dangerous weapon, capable of either digging out the defenders, or rendering them neutralised in place.

    That the Grand Slam was successfully employed with a conventional payload suggested to me that it might be successful with a nuclear payload.

    In short, the "dig-down" at impact for which Grand Slam was designed would be considerably augmented by the nuclear payload. That detonating such a payload underground in such a manner would be less efficient in causing casualty rates I do not debate: the point is plain enough.
    However: the purpose of a nuclear payload Grand Slam would not be `a-priori to cause casualties directly.
    The purpose would be to cause cave-in, implosion of the caverns/hollow spaces/caves nearby, and thus render the occupants unable to successfully defend against an incoming attack.
    Accordingly, my thought was that the "loss of efficiency" in terms of over-all casualties as a result of detonation would have been accepted, as part of the price of what would amount (imho) to super-efficiency in the undermining/cave-in/implosion of cavern-spaces role.

    Kind and Respectful regards Wizard my friend, Uyraell.

    "Honi-Soit Qui Mal'Y Pense." :
    "Ill unto he who ill of it thinks."
    Edward III, Rex Britania, AD1348.

    "Wenn Schon, denn schon."
    "Be It Done, Best be It Be Done Well."
    Known German adage.

    "Until you have looked into a veteran's eyes and actually seen it,
    you'll never fully understand."
    ^Uyraell^

    "Aligaes : Amore vel Ira." :
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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Do you have a source that indicates gas would be introduced into the underground fortifications by use of artillery shells? Or are you just surmising that would be the method? It doesn't seem to be a very effective way of using poison gas. On Iwo Jima, I believe, the plan was to lay down a gas barrage on the surface of the island, and then land specially trained troops who would pump gas into the fortifications through the ventilation openings. The Japanese would counter, of course, with gas masks and protective clothing, which probably would become less effective as the gas concentration became increased with time.

    It was Roosevelt who vetoed the use of gas on Iwo Jima out of concern for world public opinion.
    I think this was meant for Deaf Smith as I haven't made any comments about gas.
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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    Wizard, I apologise for having given inaccurate altitudes of detonation for both A-bombs.
    No apology necessary. The point is pretty much irrelevant to the present discussion; I mentioned it only in the interest of historical accuracy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    I did read Leslie Grove's very informative tome some years ago, and yes, I'm reasonably familiar with the detonation mechanisms in each case.
    Then you will understand that the atomic bombs of 1945 were considerably more delicate and sensitive to disruption of their internal mechanisms than any bomb dependent on chemical explosives alone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    My point with regard to the Grand Slam casing is that it was designed to survive impact without distorting (It was, in effect, battleship armour,).
    Both of the atomic bombs used on Japan in 1945, though intended as air burst weapons, were encased in heavy armor. I'm not sure what was the reason for this, since, if they worked as intended, they would experience no impact.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    The way I thought about it was: put a nuclear payload in a non-distorting casing, and one then has a very useful though admittedly dangerous weapon, capable of either digging out the defenders, or rendering them neutralised in place.

    That the Grand Slam was successfully employed with a conventional payload suggested to me that it might be successful with a nuclear payload.
    While I understand your point, I do not completely agree that the technology of atomic bombs was sufficiently understood in 1945 to allow them to be used successfully as tactical nuclear weapons against fortifications and underground defenses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uyraell View Post
    In short, the "dig-down" at impact for which Grand Slam was designed would be considerably augmented by the nuclear payload. That detonating such a payload underground in such a manner would be less efficient in causing casualty rates I do not debate: the point is plain enough.
    However: the purpose of a nuclear payload Grand Slam would not be `a-priori to cause casualties directly.
    The purpose would be to cause cave-in, implosion of the caverns/hollow spaces/caves nearby, and thus render the occupants unable to successfully defend against an incoming attack.
    Accordingly, my thought was that the "loss of efficiency" in terms of over-all casualties as a result of detonation would have been accepted, as part of the price of what would amount (imho) to super-efficiency in the undermining/cave-in/implosion of cavern-spaces role.

    Kind and Respectful regards Wizard my friend, Uyraell.
    First of all, I do not believe that the grand slam bomb casing could be hardened sufficiently to protect the internal mechanism of a nuclear weapon while still allowing the bomb to impact the ground with sufficient force to dig it in deeply enough to be effective against fortified underground defenses. However, this is an argument which hinges on technical data that, in all probability, is classified, and to which neither of us have access. So I freely admit I cannot prove my case. However, it seems to me that the US had not tested any such bombs by 1945, and would not be likely to waste such a valuable weapon in a manner that left anything to chance.

    Secondly, I think the power of an underground nuclear blast would not be sufficient to produce catastrophic destruction over a widespread area. Again, in 1945, there had been no testing of underground nuclear explosions, and such things as optimum depth, yield, and destructive power were completely unknown. It wasn't until the US began testing nuclear devices that could be potentially used for excavating canals, artificial harbors, etc. in 1962, that such data became available. Therefore the use of atomic bombs to destroy underground fortifications would be largely experimental in 1945. Wikipedia suggests that underground nuclear explosions generate "minor earthquakes" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects...ear_explosions which might trigger disruption of nearby fault lines and cause a major quake. But this is a pretty tenuous theory, and I doubt any military staff would be willing to base invasion plans on such a possibility.

    Given, that an atomic air burst would kill or incapacitate only those defenders caught above ground, and there is a distinct possibility that an underground atomic detonation might not occur at all, or might destroy only those fortifications within a few hundred yards proximity, I believe there is a definite possibility that the atomic bombs, had they been used in a tactical role, might have been very disappointing weapons.

    I don't know if this was understood, or even considered, by the senior American military leadership. The various nuclear tests carried out between 1945 and the mid-1960's certainly suggests to me that there was a great deal that needed to be learned about the potential uses of atomic weapons before they could be successfully employed as suggested in the plans for Operation Downfall.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Operation Downfall and the use of GAS

    Important technical point here - a ground burst is, in nuclear terms, one where the fireball touches the ground, not the device itself. For a 20kT device, that means an initiation at ~750ft above ground level or less - something they would be keen to avoid due to issues with the reliability required of the fusing system, but hardly insuperable.

    Furthermore, against the sort of fortifications that the Japanese would have constructed, an airburst would probably be better. If I'm using my Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer correctly (goes with my copy of [i]The Effects of Nuclear Weapons[i], which is highly recommended btw) then for a 20kT optimum airburst the max overpressure is 6.5 PSI @ 1 mile - which drops to 3.25 PSI for a surface burst. The surface burst provides an overpressure of 6.5 PSI at 0.65 miles - so a surface burst will only have 40% of the effectiveness of an airburst.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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