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Thread: Japanese Military Strength

  1. #31
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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    The Japanese plan was hastily implemented, true. That didn't make their overall planning any more poor than some the anachronistic American planning at points in the War. The Japanese "poor planning" was only able to be exploited because the codebreakers had determined exactly WHERE AND WHEN the Japanese attack was going to take place enabling the USN to exploit this by laying an ambush. A huge advantage that goes a long way in exploiting the enemy's mistakes? No?
    No. The Japanese plan for Midway, was seriously flawed whether it was compromised by poor communications security, or not. The American ability to learn the Japanese plans was simply another area wherein the USN proved superior to the IJN. The IJN could have equaled the USN in intelligence had it applied the same amount of effort to intelligence matters; it did not and throughout the war discounted the value of intelligence in planning operations, another failure of the Japanese to understand modern warfare.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Incidentally, "fortuitous" is a word that points both ways as the US Navy was also very lucky at points in the battle and they finally had things go their way, as in the example above where a suicidal torpedo attack cleared the upper air cover enabling a decisive, brilliantly executed divebombing attack on a carrier that was refitting its planes with ordnance and fuel. That's not a bit fortuitous? The Americans were also a bit lucky. But of course US aviators were also good and certainly created their own luck to an extent, and I've never said anything other.
    Actually, this was less fortuitous in nature than a result of astute planning by the Americans. It's a matter of record that Captain Miles Browning on Spruances' air staff, calculated the moment of maximum vulnerability for the Japanese carriers (when the Midway strike was returning to be refueled and rearmed), and advised Spruance to launch his planes in time to arrive over the Japanese carriers at that moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Incidentally, the Japanese were able to pretty much decimate air cover at Midway--with virtually no losses. And had Nimitz not known their plan, they may well have taken it and the War made even bloodier and more prolonged...
    Not true. The Japanese suffered losses over Midway according to Tully and Parshall in "Shattered Sword", page 204;

    "The total casualties to the Midway strike force was eleven aircraft lost, with another fourteen heavily damaged, and twenty-nine more shot up to some degree. Fully half the aircraft involved had been hit. Counting missing aircraft and those rendered out of commission, the mission had lost 23 percent of it's strength in about thirty minutes of combat. Twenty aviators were dead or missing, and several more had been wounded. The kanko crews on board CarDiv 2 must have been stunned. Between the American fighters and the flak, their formations had been decimated. Four had been shot down, four more damaged so badly they had to ditch, and another nine put out of commission after they made it back. Every other Kanko in CarDiv 2 had been damaged to some extent. In the ready rooms, the talk was grim. If this sort of defensive fire (and casualty rate) was going to be the norm when flying against the Americans, the carrier attack squadrons would be totally annihilated in the course of a couple more strikes. This did not bode well for coming operations."

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    The Japanese were also quite clearly better at command and control in tactical circumstances and I recall several scathing reports of failures resulting in losses in men and material to the USN that were unnecessary.
    Do you have specific instances where the Japanese demonstrated superior command and control? I really can't recall any where the Japanese significantly out performed the USN in this area.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Savo Island did not stop the marine landings because they had already taken place as it was largely a strategic surprise and shock to the IJN and Army and the GIs took Henderson Field with almost no resistance. And of course, they didn't get to the transports as they destroyed numerous cruisers and other ships, which did in fact delay and prolong the agony of the marines and soldiers on Guadalcanal denying them precious naval gunfire support, also leaving them precariously vulnerable to their opposition's for sometime afterword. You can also pick apart anything as far as failures in planning, but I believe that is also called "hindsight."
    Well, of course, history is, by definition, based entirely on "hindsight". Or do you have some other way of perceiving history?

    Yes, the landings had already commenced by the time the Savo island action was fought, but the Japanese had a golden opportunity to stop it cold by destroying the transports, which, after the defeat of the Allied cruisers were entirely open to destruction in detail. The action was a Japanese victory, but only a partial one; after all the mission wasn't to sink a few Allied cruisers (which, BTW, were under the command of a RAN officer), but to stop the landing on Guadalcanal by destroying the transports. The Japanese failed to do this and in this respect the Allies achieved their objective, while the Japanese failed in theirs.

    Nor did the defeat at Savo delay anything; the unloading re-commenced the next morning, and the Marines continued with their scheduled tasks. I do not remember any instances where the Marines called for "precious NGS" and were denied. In fact, there was no need for NGS for several days. In any case, had the Marines required NGS, Turner still had undamaged one CA, three CL's and six destroyers available.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Not at Pearl Harbor, nor for the first few months they didn't. But yes, after the initial blunders, the Americans clearly did and certainly some of there procedures for seeking out the enemy were clearly superior to the IJN's. But failing to mention the fact that the US Navy (Fletcher and Nimitz) knew the gist of the Japanese plan and target, and were effectively able to ambush them as a result--then ascribing the following actions as merely the result of qualitative superiority of the US Navy seems a tad disingenuous to me. A bit of a glaring omission really..
    One failure, as embarrassing as it was, does not mean the Japanese were inferior to the US in intelligence gathering and analysis.

    I did mention intelligence as an American strength. And there is nothing disingenuous about it. It was not "luck" and was not a God-given gift, but the result of years of intensive effort and study in the pre-war years. You seem to think that American intelligence capability should somehow not count in the balance of strengths and weaknesses between the IJN and USN; I disagree. It was as much to the credit of the American Navy as pilot skill, planning or command and control abilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Of course not. US pilots were good and adaptable, compensating for their disadvantages while taking advantage of the enemy's idiotic "samurai" macho ethos of getting their pilots killed in unarmored tinderboxes. Though ones that were fantastically maneuverable...

    But those samurai pilots were still great overall (up until many were sent down to Davy Jones Locker at Midway, in their burning carriers)...
    Something I never denied. But, in fact, the consistent ratio of higher Japanese aircraft losses and overall defeats, in the carrier battles of 1942 (and I'm not counting Japanese debacles like the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot) points to serious deficiencies amongst either Japanese aircraft, pilots, air doctrine, planning, aerial combat tactics, or some combination thereof. Suffice it to say, the USN stopped the Japanese Navy cold after six months and in the first carrier to carrier battles in history, and began pushing them into eventual total defeat. To me that argues that the USN , for whatever reasons, was superior to the IJN in 1942.

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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    And just how many hours of real training did the Japanese pilots receive compared to US pilots, and again, who says so?
    IIRC the IJN pre-war pilot training program was two years or maybe a bit longer. I don't recall seeing flying hours for that course but my recollection is that it involved intensive training in air combat, inlcuding an emphasis on team tactics contrary to comments that the Japanese didn't employ them.

    I seem to recall that all Pearl Harbor IJN pilots had at least 500 hours and many had a lot more than that.

    One of the reasons the IJN was less able to counter USN increases in carrier pilots from 1942 onwards was that the IJN persisted with its long course, where the USN adapted to wartime conditions and shortened its course.

    The IJN also persisted with its highly selective recruitment, which limited numbers and, in conjunction with the long course, kept replacements below losses, where the USN focused on training as many pilots as possible and replacements exceeded losses.

    My recollection is also that the training problem for the IJN was compounded during the war by fuel scarcity with limited flying time compared with the USN, so that IJN pilots trained during the war had less air time than pre-war trainees.

    I can't recall a specific source. Just what I recall from general reading.
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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    The discussion on IJN v USN so far has focused primarily on carrier encounters and Coral Sea, Solomons, and Midway.

    The Java Sea and related battles indicate that even outnumbered and outgunned non-carrier IJN forces could be more than a match for the USN and other Allied navies.

    The invasion of Bali was carried out by a relatively small advance force of Japanese warships covering a pair of transports. The transports successfully disgorged their troops in Sanur Roads, but were attacked during the day by Allied airpower. One of the transports was severely damaged. The Japanese withdrew the majority of their force to the north, detailing one pair of destroyers (Michishio and Arashio) to escort the cripple, and another pair (Oshio and Asashio) to bring up the rear with the undamaged Maru. Just as this latter pair was getting underway, the first of two Allied squadrons charged with breaking up the landings appeared. Composed of a Dutch and Australian light cruiser and three destroyers, it heavily outgunned the Japanese force. However, the Japanese bravely gave battle, first driving off the light cruisers through the channel northward, and then turning to attack the Allied destroyers. A successful torpedo attack resulted in the sinking of one of the Allied destroyers, which then shortly drew off to the south.

    Shortly afterwards, however, the second Allied squadron of four U.S. destroyers and a Dutch light cruiser came up the Strait from the south as well. Oshio and Asashio again returned to defend the damaged transport against a second superior enemy force. In short order they had attacked the U.S. destroyers so fiercely as to force them to withdraw through the Strait to the north, leaving only the Dutch light cruiser Tromp to be dealt with. This they quickly did, hitting the cruiser eleven times in the superstructure in rapid succession. She, too, fled.

    The final act was played out as some of the Allied warships retreating northward ran into Michishio and Arashio. A sharp fight developed, in which Michishio was heavily damaged. However, the Allied ships continued on their way without giving a serious fight.

    The final result of this rather confusing action was that two superior Allied squadrons had been manhandled almost singlehandedly by a lone pair of audacious Japanese destroyers. It was a most embarrassing performance by the Allies, who were admittedly heavily fatigued, but who possessed more than enough firepower to deal handily with their Japanese adversaries. This was the first of the impressive night-fighting performances the Japanese Navy would turn in throughout the war.
    http://www.combinedfleet.com/battles/Java_Campaign
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  4. #34
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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    You'll also find that American losses in 1941 were much greater than the Japanese! So what? That does not prove nor disprove individual competence and skill in certain facets. There weren't really that many carrier battles, certainly in the first half as the Americans spent it biding their time and judiciously avoiding major engagements and the Japanese seeking the "one-more-push" to finish what they had started at Pearl.
    LOL! Well if you want to pick one battle where one side didn't even know there was a war going on, yes, I guess I have to admit that the Americans lost more aircraft in that one battle.

    But in the four carrier battles in 1942, the Americans won three of them and in every one suffered fewer aircraft losses than the Japanese. Overall, the Americans also lost fewer CV's and CVL's. I think that is a pretty good indicator that either American aircraft, pilots, aerial combat tactics, or some combination thereof were superior to their Japanese counterparts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Aerial, sub, and ship torpedoes. The Long Lance was the bane to the Allies for much of 1942, and helped kill 1000s of Allied sailors in Iron Bottom Sound and severally hindered the US fleet at Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, I also think the courageous aviators of VT6 and VT8 might also think differently, as they were butchered in a suicidal attack with pointless weaponry. A valiant charge and good men wasted firing duds. Sickening!!
    We are discussing aerial torpedoes here, so let's stick to that subject, Ok? The Long Lance was a destroyer/Cruiser torpedo and was not a factor at Pearl Harbor or Midway. And yes I agree that the US aerial torpedo was a dud, however, at Midway it was not primarily the cause of the slaughter of the US torpedo squadrons; most torpedo planes were shot down before they could even launch their weapons. It was the obsolescent nature of the aircraft themselves that was the problem. Without armor, self-sealing tanks, deficient in speed, and defensive armament, they would have been shot down no matter what kind of torpedo they were carrying. The Japanese torpedo planes that managed to get into action, with their superior torpedoes, did not fare much better than their US counterparts, losing half their number before getting into range to launch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Right, largely based on the turning point at Midway. And that is exactly my point. But the American Navy's most decisive advantage was the broken code which telegraphed most of the Japanese plans to an extent. And any battle of attrition would clearly turn to America's favor. Yamamoto delivered exactly what he promised, "six months" of chaos and worry for the US. After that, all bets were off and an American victory in the absence of a hugely decisive "coup de main operation" the Japanese never really were able to achieve meant they were just prolonging the inevitable after June of 1942...
    Whether or not the USN's intelligence capabilities were the "most decisive advantage" is debatable. But, in any event, just knowing what the enemy intends to do is not much of an advantage unless you can position superior forces and defeat his intentions. It took skill, courage, and superior fighting ability to defeat the Japanese naval forces even after their plans were known.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Um, a seminal work on Guadalcanal by Richard Frank (among just about every testimony I've ever read on the subject). It's not in my personal library, but he goes on about the (futile) fighting prowess of the Japanese soldier, as they tended not to give up even when starving...
    Interesting that you should cite Richard Frank's work, as I have it here on my desk as I write. I can find no reference to "expert Jungle fighters", or a "match for the Marines". If anything, Frank gives the very opposite impression. Page 70; "But Captain Monzen rallied a body of stalwarts and led them southeast to seek battle in the dark. They became lost in the jungle and returned before making contact with the Marines."

    Page 231-32,

    "When the three battalions, numbering 2,506 men, went forward they lost their sense of direction, almost entirely missed the ridge, and instead drifted into the low, waterlogged swath of jungle between the ridge and the Lunga....he [General Kawaguchi] reported that 'because of the devilish jungle, the brigade was scattered all over and completely beyond control. In my whole life I have never felt so helpless'"

    Page 346,

    "Early on October 23, Japanese soldiers dropped their packs and each unit began to slice it's own trail north toward the American perimeter. Scouts radiated out, but many failed to return, and those who did could only gasp that there was jungle in every direction."

    These are "expert jungle fighters"??

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    The Japanese ethos in itself was one that suited the jungle and I believe many, if not most had some form of basic instruction.
    Well, at the very least a lot of Japanese met their demise in the Jungle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Yes, but, there weren't that many "major ground battles" on Guadalcanal. They certainly inflicted more casualties, but that is irrelevant to the overall point that the Japanese soldier was a fierce one capable of sometimes great feats, and sometimes pointlessly getting himself killed under poor leadership. However, I might also point out that a starving Japanese force was outnumbered and cut off after a time, and held out in spite of horrifying deprivations. And I think merely painting them as hopeless amateurs (which I agree they were when balanced with the view that they were fanatically tough, skilled in certain ways, and were no ****ing pushovers!!) also only tells part of the story and is a bit of a disservice not only to their history, but to the ones of the US marines, sailors, and soldiers that fought them there. They didn't defeat the Japanese easily nor was anything a walkover and they also suffered deprivations.
    The bottom line was that American tactics were superior and they won the battle. That's the only thing that counts in war.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I might also add that other US military formations also pissed themselves in the New Guinea such as a certain National Guard division (the 32d ID?) that virtually quit and took the excellent leadership of Gen. Eichelberger to turn them back into an effective formation...
    You keep posting allegations that the Americans made plenty of mistakes too, as if that changes the basic equation that the Americans and Australians beat the Japanese soundly in the South Pacific; it doesn't. The Allies were clearly superior in military expertise to Japanese forces in the Pacific.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    The Allies also suffered a string of ignominious defeats inflicted by the Japanese, and took four years to roll back their empire the IJ military won within a few months, even weeks really. This despite having numerical, industrial, and maritime superiority...
    You are comparing apples and oranges; The Japanese were advancing in to what amounted to a military vacuum with the twin advantages of surprise and the initiative. And it took only three years to roll back the Japanese despite their having had a year in most cases to consolidate their defensive positions. Had the circumstances been reversed, the Japanese would never have been able to accomplish what the Allies did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    It gave the US pause, and caused a projection of frightful (if possibly exaggerated - we'll never know) casualties for Operation Downfall. The blood bath that took over 100,000 Japanese lives (an expendable sum to them) forced the Americans to kill those "rabbits" at the decimation of some of the Marine and Army line units at casualty rates that might have been unacceptable to an already war-weary US public had they continued to the other Home Islands. The Battle served its purpose in delaying the inevitable and giving planners a pause about Downfall--specifically the first phase of the operation which could have been horrific if we believe the tales of suicide strikes on American and British troopships and the like (which I think might be a tad overboard)...
    Oh, I believe Japanese could have inflicted the casualties they hoped for. I'm equally convinced it would have been to no avail; the Allies would have simply rolled Japan under and buried it in a communal grave.

    It reminds me of the kamekazi campaign; the Japanese hoped to overawe the Americans and impress them with the determination and loyalty of the Japanese people. But it backfired. The Americans were not impressed, but came to despise the Japanese for their stupidity and willingness to die for no good reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Correct, which fit into the wider goal of "saving face"--and the Emperor--and some of regime, via negotiations...
    But it failed. The Japanese still ended up surrendering unconditionally with their hopes of negotiations unfullfilled

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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    The discussion on IJN v USN so far has focused primarily on carrier encounters and Coral Sea, Solomons, and Midway.

    The Java Sea and related battles indicate that even outnumbered and outgunned non-carrier IJN forces could be more than a match for the USN and other Allied navies.

    http://www.combinedfleet.com/battles/Java_Campaign
    Well, the reason the discussion has focused on the carrier battle is because my original statement was to the effect that the USN stopped the IJN cold in these battles, about six months into the war. I have never claimed the USN was able to stop the initial advances of the Japanese in South East Asia.

    However, I would feel constrained to point out that the Japanese were seldom outnumbered and outgunned, and were almost always operating under conditions of at least Japanese air superiority, if not air supremacy.

    In the specific example that you posted, the forces involved were hardly dominated by the USN, the largest US ship being a WW I-era destroyer. All of the ships were under ABDA command, and were under the tactical command of a Dutch naval officer. These vessels were remnants of the US Asiatic fleet which had been fleeing south ever since MacArthur managed to get his air force wiped out at the beginning of the war.

    In fact, the first Allied Naval victory of the war was won by four American destroyers (Paul Jones, Pope, Parrot, and John D. Ford), at Balikpapan on the night of 23/24 January, 1942.

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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    You keep posting allegations that the Americans made plenty of mistakes too, as if that changes the basic equation that the Americans and Australians beat the Japanese soundly in the South Pacific; it doesn't. The Allies were clearly superior in military expertise to Japanese forces in the Pacific.
    I think you need to pick your period and campaign for that.

    So far as the Australians were concerned, the level of their 'military expertise' against the advancing Japanese and in recognition that the Japanese would try to advance overland to Port Moresby was, in the first half of 1942, to:

    1. Send at the beginning of 1942 a battalion which included about 100 men who had yet to see a rifle, and many of the rest not much better. This was one of the two battalions which would face the Japanese on the critical Kokoda campaign.
    2. Use both those battalions primarily as fortification labourers and stevedores from the time they arrived at Port Moresby at the start of 1942 until the time they went into action against experienced Japanese troops in mid-1942.
    3. Fail to supply those battalions adequately by air or with air evacuation of wounded.
    4. Fail to provide air fields necessary for 3 due to poor planning and poor airfield selection.
    5. Send Blamey, MacArthur’s 2iC, to Morseby in a panic by MacArthur at risk of losing his SWPA command which infected Blamey, always a military politician of similar vein but vastly inferior to MacArthur, to sack the best commander he had, Rowell. http://ww2db.com/person_bio.php?person_id=526
    6. Have Blamey exhorting his commanders on the Kokoda Track to do various things which were impossible, as Blamey would have known if he had bothered to view the ground himself. Which is the same for MacArthur, several thousand miles south in Brisbane and shitting himself that the Australians could lose the command of the greatest general America ever had.
    7. While the Australians fought a valiant and reasonably effective fighting retreat on Kokoda, when Gen Hori and his exhausted troops were almost in sight of Moresby it was Japanese command which ordered him to retreat for reasons more to do with the US situation in Guadalcanal than anything local to the Kokoda campaign.
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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    No. The Japanese plan for Midway, was seriously flawed whether it was compromised by poor communications security, or not. The American ability to learn the Japanese plans was simply another area wherein the USN proved superior to the IJN. ...
    But what if the US hadn't broken the code or the Japanese had changed it? How "superior" would US planning have been? And yes, having superior codebreaking and SIGINT along with IMINT is part of being better overall. But you were segmenting things and implying as if the US Navy was vastly superior to the Japanese in 1942 as far as combat, when in fact the Japanese may have had initially superior fire control, damage control, etc...

    Actually, this was less fortuitous in nature than a result of astute planning by the Americans. It's a matter of record that Captain Miles Browning on Spruances' air staff, calculated the moment of maximum vulnerability for the Japanese carriers (when the Midway strike was returning to be refueled and rearmed), and advised Spruance to launch his planes in time to arrive over the Japanese carriers at that moment.
    Right, all allotted by the fact that the US had clearly identified that Jap target. I should **** well hope they could figure out a basic precept of warfare, and "ambushing" the IJN aviators. This was no more brilliant or laudable than the Japanese attacking on Sunday morning.

    Incidentally, the hero behind all of this, Rochefort, was detested by many of the "genius" spit-and-polish admirals in the USN. But I'm not sure why you're arguing on this point, we're not that far apart. But the Americans also got "lucky" and the Japanese luck and mojo were running out. Granted, the USN was also good enough to create and take advantage of their own luck. I think I've acknowledged this several times...

    Not true. The Japanese suffered losses over Midway according to Tully and Parshall in "Shattered Sword", page 204;

    "The total casualties to the Midway strike force was eleven aircraft lost, with another fourteen heavily damaged, and twenty-nine more shot up to some degree..
    .."
    Yes, but they also destroyed nearly every US aircraft on Midway and according to Wiki, only two remained flyable. I think Wiki (citing the same work) says roughly seven were downed in air to air and the rest by "intense" AAA with 16 US fighters shot down, albeit mostly very obsolete Brewster Buffalo (Coffins)...

    Do you have specific instances where the Japanese demonstrated superior command and control? I really can't recall any where the Japanese significantly out performed the USN in this area.
    Really? Have you forgotten Savo Island already? Or are you going to imply that that somehow doesn't count or didn't matter? Because, you seem to be rather selective at points.

    Well, of course, history is, by definition, based entirely on "hindsight". Or do you have some other way of perceiving history?
    Yes. The that explains what happened with greater detail than just linear "cause-and-effect." For instance, I'm not interested in simply denouncing the French as "surrender monkeys" or calling Gen. Gamelin and idiot--I'm more interested in the intrinsic reasons for the Fall of France and how it was allowed to happen...

    Yes, the landings had already commenced by the time the Savo island action was fought, but the Japanese had a golden opportunity to stop it cold by destroying the transports...
    Because the US and Australian navies were generous enough to donate several heavy cruisers to the locker of Davy Jones in One Iron Bottom Sound.

    Nice job of spinning and making excuses though. You seem to do that a lot and have a very partisan, overly nationalistic view of history--which is fine. I'm pretty sure that if the reverse had been true, you'd be crowing about what a huge victory The Battle of Savo Island was and pointing out to us all that the glorious US Navy managed to eat the Japs lunch at night (even if a few transports got away)...

    Nor did the defeat at Savo delay anything...
    No? It afforded the marine and army garrison several months of hell and allowed the Japanese to wage a losing campaign in what otherwise could have been a swift coup de main victory that could have shortened the War...

    One failure, as embarrassing as it was, does not mean the Japanese were inferior to the US in intelligence gathering and analysis.

    I did mention intelligence as an American strength. And there is nothing disingenuous about it. It was not "luck" and was not a God-given gift, but the result of years of intensive effort and study in the pre-war years. You seem to think that American intelligence capability should somehow not count in the balance of strengths and weaknesses between the IJN and USN; I disagree. It was as much to the credit of the American Navy as pilot skill, planning or command and control abilities.
    I never said US intell had anything to do with "luck." What I said was they were lucky at points. And I think you mean that the one defeat did not mean the Japanese WEREN'T inferior? Again, I think I've made myself clear that I agree with you in certain aspects. However, as far as overall strategic intelligence, it would be hard to argue that the US wasn't severally ignorant of Japan in many respects, even at the end of the War...you seem to be actually missing my wider point though, as I never argued that SIGINT wasn't a testimony to the Naval, and overall US, intelligentsia. Pearl Harbor notwithstanding. But my point is that you can't sit here and carp about the brilliant, almost infallible US Navy and be overly critical of Japanese commanders without considering that the individual US commanders had a significant advantage in the broken code. I think many commanders in the US Navy or any other service might tell you the same thing, you're not considering everything and omitting much. Not very helpful in AAR. Nagumo may have been a stogy, static personality; but he was competent. He had a massive disadvantage in that his enemy knew full well his intentions. Had the US not, how "superior" would US aviation and naval skills really have been apparent? The codes allowed the US admirals to play poker with a marked deck, and it's hard to say what genius they were at poker after they won the pot. I'm saying they could afford to make errors and the Japanese had to be perfect. I am not saying the US was dumb to play with a marked deck though. Nor am I saying that Nimitz wasn't one hell of a poker player... ..

    Something I never denied. But, in fact, the consistent ratio of higher Japanese aircraft losses and overall defeats, in the carrier battles of 1942 points to serious deficiencies amongst either Japanese aircraft, pilots, air doctrine, planning, aerial combat tactics, or some combination thereof....
    No, it doesn't. What it shows was the Japanese suffered an appalling loss of aviators, deck crews, and equipment in a seminal battle which was a tipping point (Midway). It tells me that the US had a vastly superior industrial base and resources to train new pilots and replace and improve their machines. The Japanese didn't--and even if Wildcat pilots suffered about the same number of deaths as the Zero and Oscar pilots--inherent superiority of skill sets or Thach Weaves were great, but new pilots and machines were coming in 1943 irregardless. Lots of new pilots whereas the Japanese couldn't even really make good their losses. There were few air battles where US naval aviators scored significant advantages in kills in air to air combat prior to them "getting up to speed" by the middle of 1942 in a straight up fight and I recall things mostly being roughly equal at best...

    In fact, even after, according to Franks Guadalcanal, combat losses on both sides in the Cactus Air Force and the Japanese flying from Rabul were roughly even with perhaps a slight advantage in numbers to the CAF. But of course, the Japanese IJN and IJA flyers were flying long endurance and had a clear disadvantage...

    Suffice it to say, the USN stopped the Japanese Navy cold after six months and in the first carrier to carrier battles in history, and began pushing them into eventual total defeat. To me that argues that the USN , for whatever reasons, was superior to the IJN in 1942.
    To me, it points to a nationalist's bantering of favorite service is better than yours. To me, it's irrelevant and a disingenuous and useless over generalization that fails to tell the story nor adequately explains what happened. Because it doesn't really tell us "why" the US Navy came out on top and discounts an "all things being equal" process and that the Japanese clearly were dominant in the first half of 1942 as Yamamoto predicted. And that they could not maintain "parity" with the US as even with equal losses, or even if they inflicted slightly greater ones; they could never replace as the US managed to expand. That has nothing to do with the skills or competence of commanders, pilots, etc...

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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Who would better know the real facts? Some sportswriter who never played the game?...
    YES! A sportswriter pouring over pages of declassified documents and who was NOT emotionally involved in how great his team and career was...

    Like John Lundstrom (The First Team) and Eric Bergerud (Fire In The Sky). Both make specific comparisons as to pilot training, aerial teamwork and tactics, as well as myriad other subjects. Perhaps you could cite the historians who support your position?
    Thank you, I'll see if I can find them but I am going through a slight "Eastern Front phase" now.

    I named one of my sources in Franks' Guadalcanal. And many of my sources are long forgotten as I read a lot of this a decade or more ago in the high school and college library until I realized that chasing girls was more fun & rewarding--if less fulfilling...

    For instance, I cannot remember the dry work I read on the Japanese Army that referred to the soldier's paradox of the "dangerous amateur" and the skilled, dedicated warrior using a "Third Force" (the first two being men and equipment [where the Western armies stopped] and the third being the "spirit warrior" ideal via the perverse, "bastardized" version of Bushido shoveled by the high command onto its peasant soldiers. This was expanded on in Bradley's Flyboys).

    First of all, I am speaking only of USN pilots and have never mentioned American Army pilots who routinely received far less training than naval pilots, so let's stick to discussing naval pilots only, Ok?
    Why limit ourselves? In any case, the USAAC/F shot down far more Japanese aircraft than the USN ever did!

    A coordinated naval strike is one thing, and I grant you the Japanese were fairly good at that. However, even when achieving well coordinated attacks on ground or ship targets, Japanese pilots often fell victim to American pilots flying inferior planes, but employing better team tactics in aerial combat. Examples of this would be the American use of the "Finger Four" formation, and the "Thach Weave". According to Bergerud, the Japanese were never able to, or perhaps never inclined, to employ team tactics in aerial combat. My father is credited with three Japanese planes shot down while flying the SBD; one was an A6M, which he downed while employing the Thach weave in conjunction with another SBD.
    Certainly the lack of teamwork was a weakness of the IJN aviation. The finger four was a German invention, and although the Wildcat was not as maneuverable, it was far more rugged and Japanese fighters could be deathtraps without self-sealing tanks. However, the US pilots were generally only holding their own until they got better and more numerous while the experienced, better Jap pilots were hunted down over time and the newbs were cannon fodder...

    Yes, torpedo aircraft on both sides suffered heavily for little results, but this had little to do with executive planning and coordination and more to do with the nature of carrier warfare. Of all the aerial torpedo attacks launched at Midway only three torpedoes actually struck a target; one American and two Japanese...
    I believe it was stated that more like six US torpedoes may have hit their marks (we'll never know for sure as the men are dead and the ships were sunk shortly thereafter). I also might add that shitty torpedoes like the Mk13 and obsolete aircraft are hardly the mark of a "superior" service? And perhaps showed deficiencies in US Naval planning? Eh?

    I never claimed the Japanese "sucked"; are you implying that I did?
    I wasn't quoting you, but you certainly come across as dismissive of whatever fails to build your prosecutorial like, sophist argument and dismiss as irrelevant what doesn't quite fit...

    And yes, the USN still had senior commanders who needed removal. Fortunately neither Nimitz nor King were shy about doing that once they became convinced of a lack of competence or aggressiveness. I'm not sure the same could be said of the Japanese; Nagumo for instance continued to serve as Commander of the Japanese carrier striking force after Pearl Harbor and until he completely botched the battle of Midway.
    Yes, well. King was hardly competent or aggressive regarding the U-boats blowing the shit out of our merchant fleet in the "happy days" of 1942. And Nimitz or King may well have botched any battle where their mail was read! Even Enigma and Anglo-forewarning didn't prevent King from ****ing up! Overall, I do think King was an organizational genius though...

    And Pearl went about as well as it feasibly could for the Japanese, its deficiencies could not all be put on Nagumo...

    As evidenced by the USN winning most of the important carrier battles of 1942. The USN was NOT carefully "picking it's battles" until after August, 1942
    I don't recall providing an exact date, sensibly, as they were greatly weakened by Pearl Harbor. They did hold back until they had a clear intelligence telegraph of Japanese plans, or only to parry a Japanese thrust at Australia...

    ...Despite the fact that many senior commanders still believed in the "Big Guns" of the battleship, this was much less a factor in the USN than the IJN. As far back as July, 1940, the USN had opted for the carrier as the most important capital ship, by ordering 14 new Essex-class (and only six new battleships) and affording those carriers absolute top priority in construction materials, labor and yard space. As a result, the Navy's battleships did not become available until 1944, but the Essex-class carriers were built in an average of 18 months, the first one being commissioned on 31 December, 1942.
    But yet the USN failed to grasp the Japanese threat of a carrier born strike despite the British demonstration using even obsolete torpedo planes. And it was the Japanese that conducted the carrier-born strike at PH...

    Something I've never disputed. My position is that the USN was slightly better overall than the IJN, as demonstrated by it's performance in the second half of 1942.

    Compared to the winning approach of the USN in the really important battles in 1942.
    Which were largely won with the aid if knowing the exact Japanese intentions. without that key advantage, how superior can we really claim the US Navy was in terms of aviation, command, damage control, etc.? And by your own logic, the Japanese WERE better for the first six or seven months of the War, as they were winning. My point is that neither the US nor IJ Navies were fixed, static organizations, and furthermore they were very different organizations at the beginning and the end of 1942...

    Well, I've been citing authorities to support my conclusions,
    Congratulations. So have I...

    ...but the ultimate authority is the fact that by the end of 1942, the USN, from an initial position of disadvantage, unreadiness and inferior aircraft, fought the IJN to a standstill, and inflicted severe and crippling attrition on the IJN, which prevented it from ever recovering the initiative
    So the Japanese were "better" in the beginning of 1942?

    It was very nice of the US Navy (and Army) to graciously give the Japanese a nice head-start and hand them most of the Pacific.

    No battle in the Pacific in 1942 was a "walkover"...
    But when you callously dismiss the IJA as just "dangerous amateurs," (a phrase I introduced to the conversation I might add) you sort of imply selectively that the US military was vastly superior. Something which took time to actually achieve...

    As for codebreaking and general intelligence, you keep citing it as a factor in the USN victories as though it was a gift from the gods...

    Continued.....
    We've been over this. What I said is that it's hard to call Spruance a genius naval commander and Nagumo a fool when they were playing a game like the New England Patriots were a few years back in "spygate." (intercepting the radio transmitted play-calling of opposing offenses and defenses for those of us not a fan of American football) Direct comparisons are difficult, just like I believe Montgomery had a significant advantage over the Desert Fox with Enigma, and this idea was put forth by one of his own British staff officers in a documentary interview in which he implied that he didn't like Monty all that much and that he was overrated even if Monty had introduced many reforms critical to the British victories and the British Army recovered from early defeats to sweep the desert of the Afrika Korp. That doesn't mean I'm removing that facet from the game, just that it's not a fair direct comparison. Just like Adm. Kimmel cannot be solely be blamed for the losses at Pearl Harbor--no matter how he was scapegoated by both military and civilian authorities..

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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    IIRC the IJN pre-war pilot training program was two years or maybe a bit longer. I don't recall seeing flying hours for that course but my recollection is that it involved intensive training in air combat, including an emphasis on team tactics contrary to comments that the Japanese didn't employ them.....
    I recall reading as much and this is pretty much the "conventional wisdom" here, despite boasting the the contrary...

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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    I grow weary of this and I'm beginning to think of the girls walking into my college library as I was reading page after page of fifty year old events.... So, just a few points as I think I've clarified mine and this is devolving into a pedestrian "flamefest"... Irregardless Wizard, I think you're a solid, knowledgeable poster.

    But, we'll agree to disagree as:

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    ...
    But in the four carrier battles in 1942, the Americans won three of them and in every one suffered fewer aircraft losses than the Japanese....
    The Coral Sea was far from an unambiguous victory. But I think my point that the singular, one-sided victory at Midway caused a systemic breakdown in Japan's naval war effort making a true comparison impossible and making saying "we won all the carrier battles" ad hominem...


    We are discussing aerial torpedoes here, so let's stick to that subject, Ok? The Long Lance was a destroyer/Cruiser torpedo and was not a factor at Pearl Harbor or Midway.
    Um, lol wut? I think you're sorely mistaken...

    And yes I agree that the US aerial torpedo was a dud, however, at Midway it was not primarily the cause of the slaughter of the US torpedo squadrons; most torpedo planes were shot down before they could even launch their weapons....
    My point was that even that slaughter was made futile by the duds that were the Mk13s, and their sacrifice might have been even more poignant had one of as many as six torpedo strikes on the carriers had actually detonated. And as stated, shitty torpedoes carried by obsolete planes flying unsupported by fighter cover hardly makes some of your claims of inherent US naval aviation superiority seem valid in the context of June 4th, 1942. (my birthday actually, not in 1942 though --June 4th is truly a magnificent day!)

    ...

    Interesting that you should cite Richard Frank's work, as I have it here on my desk as I write. I can find no reference to "expert Jungle fighters",
    Well, as I recall it was like 700 or 900 pages (often fraught with extraneous, but interesting details). In any case, I wasn't "quoting" him. I was pretty much stating the conventional wisdom held by almost everyone--except you of course.

    or a "match for the Marines". If anything, Frank gives the very opposite impression. Page 70; "But Captain Monzen rallied a body of stalwarts and led them southeast to seek battle in the dark. They became lost in the jungle and returned before making contact with the Marines."

    Page 231-32,

    "When the three battalions, numbering 2,506 men, went forward they lost their sense of direction, almost entirely missed the ridge, and instead drifted into the low, waterlogged swath of jungle between the ridge and the Lunga....he [General Kawaguchi] reported that 'because of the devilish jungle, the brigade was scattered all over and completely beyond control. In my whole life I have never felt so helpless'"

    Page 346,

    "Early on October 23, Japanese soldiers dropped their packs and each unit began to slice it's own trail north toward the American perimeter. Scouts radiated out, but many failed to return, and those who did could only gasp that there was jungle in every direction."

    These are "expert jungle fighters"??
    Well, I think I pretty much referred to the botched attack on Henderson Field, so congratulations on preaching to the choir. But thanks to testifying to my memory, which I'll have to rely for now despite years of alcohol rot. And on finding selective quotes to "build your case."

    I think he also testifies to the courage of the Japanese soldier and clearly mentions several instances where US marines or soldiers had their asses handed to them in straight up small unit engagements. and some US units were wiped out almost to the man in ill advised movements?

    You could also make the contention (a false one I think) that the US ground pounders were far too reliant of their superior firepower over the Japanese and tended to fall apart in small unit actions where they didn't have direct support. Marine Raiders notwithstanding....

    The bottom line was that American tactics were superior and they won the battle. That's the only thing that counts in war.
    They were superior only after they learned how to fight the Japanese forces properly and to conduct proper defense in depth and from proper mutually supporting positions on the tactical level. They also had a clear superiority in industry giving them huge advantages over the IJA in firepower and mobility, something I've said here dozens of times--and the reason why the IJA was heavily dependent on the "spirit-warrior" ethos...

    If you've read Franks closely, he also pretty clearly indicates that many in the West thought the Japanese be something of 'fanatical savages' virtually undefeatable on the ground by the soft boys raised under a democracy, a sentiment echoed in Atkin's An Army at Dawn as an overall fear in going against the Axis powers. And that US morale was questionable and shaky prior to the initiation of ground operations and the taking of Henderson Field, where shocked Japanese soldiers and ground crews simply ran--as they often went into shock during unpleasant surprises despite their ferocious reputation. August Storm is a great example of this...

    You keep posting allegations that the Americans made plenty of mistakes too, as if that changes the basic equation that the Americans and Australians beat the Japanese soundly in the South Pacific; it doesn't. The Allies were clearly superior in military expertise to Japanese forces in the Pacific.
    Then they took over most of the Pacific rim how?

    Another overgeneralization with no context...

    You are comparing apples and oranges;
    Quite contraire my friend, not I.

    The Japanese were advancing in to what amounted to a military vacuum with the twin advantages of surprise and the initiative. And it took only three years to roll back the Japanese despite their having had a year in most cases to consolidate their defensive positions. Had the circumstances been reversed, the Japanese would never have been able to accomplish what the Allies did.
    So it took three years to rollback what the Japanese took in three months? Bataan and Corrigador were hardly "military vacuums."

    Oh, I believe Japanese could have inflicted the casualties they hoped for. I'm equally convinced it would have been to no avail; the Allies would have simply rolled Japan under and buried it in a communal grave.
    An interesting seperate discussion. I believe the US and Commonwealth would have suffered huge casualties initially in the first phase (Olympic?). But the Japanese didn't deal well with open, mobile combined arms battle as evidenced in Manchuria, and may have collapsed according to, or depending on, the terrain and their ammunition shortages...

    It reminds me of the kamekazi campaign; the Japanese hoped to overawe the Americans and impress them with the determination and loyalty of the Japanese people. But it backfired. The Americans were not impressed, but came to despise the Japanese for their stupidity and willingness to die for no good reason....
    I agree that it backfired, but I think you're wrong if think Americans were not impressed! And a single plane killing hundreds or thousands in an Allied troop ship would have been a good trade-off. But the Japanese decimated what was left of their air forces with little gain overall. And it's hard to predict what the American people would have thought of coffins with flags rolling into their graveyards in small towns if the US began suffering true Eastern Front-numbers of casualties. "If"..

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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I grow weary of this and I'm beginning to think of the girls walking into my college library as I was reading page after page of fifty year old events.... So, just a few points as I think I've clarified mine and this is devolving into a pedestrian "flamefest"... Irregardless Wizard, I think you're a solid, knowledgeable poster.

    But, we'll agree to disagree as:
    That's probably best, I have no intention of starting a flamefest or pissing contest over these issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    The Coral Sea was far from an unambiguous victory. But I think my point that the singular, one-sided victory at Midway caused a systemic breakdown in Japan's naval war effort making a true comparison impossible and making saying "we won all the carrier battles" ad hominem...
    True. Both sides regarded Coral Sea as decisively in their favor at the time. However, it's clear in hindsight that the Japanese really lost. Not only were they forced to abandon their operation to capture Port Moresby, but they permanently lost a useful CVL, and lost the services of their two best CV's, scheduled to be in the Midway operation. Had the Shokaku and Zuikaku actually been at Midway, it's doubtful the USN could have overcome the quantitative disadvantage they posed.

    Excuse me, but I didn't say "we won all the battles". I said we won three out of the four in 1942. We won the first three and lost the last one. However, even in losing we always inflicted heavier casualties in planes and aircrew than we received, which I think is the most telling fact of all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Um, lol wut? I think you're sorely mistaken...
    Actually, it's you who is mistaken. The term "Long Lance" was bestowed by Samuel Eliot Morison in his monumental "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II". In context, it specifically referred to the Japanese Type 93 torpedo. This was a 24 inch oxygen-fueled torpedo designed to be launched from cruisers and destroyers; no other torpedo platforms used this weapon during WW II.

    The standard submarine torpedo was the Type 92 (a version of a German-designed torpedo), and later the Type 95 which was purely a Japanese designed, 21 inch torpedo, used only in submarines.

    The standard Japanese aerial torpedo was the Type 91, a 17.7 inch torpedo, originally designed in 1931. It used a kerosene-air wet-heater type of propulsion unit and was rather short-ranged (2,200 yards), but was considered fast for it's day. The Japanese upgraded their torpedoes with minor improvements over the years, as did most navies. Incidentally, the US Mk 13 aerial torpedo (the one used at Midway) was also upgraded and eventually became the best aerial torpedo of WW II, achieving an enviable 50% hit probability by the end of the war; it remained in service with the USN for a considerable period post war.

    http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WTJAP_WWII.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    My point was that even that slaughter was made futile by the duds that were the Mk13s, and their sacrifice might have been even more poignant had one of as many as six torpedo strikes on the carriers had actually detonated. And as stated, shitty torpedoes carried by obsolete planes flying unsupported by fighter cover hardly makes some of your claims of inherent US naval aviation superiority seem valid in the context of June 4th, 1942. (my birthday actually, not in 1942 though --June 4th is truly a magnificent day!)
    Actually, the same torpedo and aircraft had performed magnificently less than a month before in the attack on the Shoho at Coral Sea. The Shoho was overwhelmed by a reported seven torpedo strikes (some sources claim as many as 13 torpedo hits), and went down in minutes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    ...In any case, I wasn't "quoting" him. I was pretty much stating the conventional wisdom held by almost everyone--except you of course.
    Well, Frank, as well as quite a few other historians, does not hold with the conventional wisdom that all Japanese were "expert Jungle fighters". In fact, it now seems to be recognized that very few IJA units received any kind of special jungle training. Certainly not those on Guadalcanal, as they seemed to have a propensity for getting lost in the jungle at the drop of a hat. Much of this may be attributive to their senior officers, who seemed to have no idea of the difficulty of jungle navigation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Well, I think I pretty much referred to the botched attack on Henderson Field,And on finding selective quotes to "build your case."
    Selective quotes to build my case??

    Come on, I provided three quotations about three different events, involving three different Japanese units, and all on Guadalcanal, which I believe was the focus of this part of our discussion. Moreover, I used the same source which you had previously cited! At least give me credit for supporting my assertion with relevant data.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I think he also testifies to the courage of the Japanese soldier and clearly mentions several instances where US marines or soldiers had their asses handed to them in straight up small unit engagements. and some US units were wiped out almost to the man in ill advised movements?
    Again your assertions are pretty vague; the only episode where any Marines were "handed their asses." or "wiped out to a man" on Guadalcanal was the Goettge Patrol. There were, on the other hand, numerous times when the Japanese were ambushed and suffered extremely heavy losses at the hands of the Marines, such as the Shibuya detachment from Ichiki's command. Ichiki, himself, and his 900 men met the same fate shortly later, when they were so foolish as to attack the Marine lines. This supposedly elite assault unit were defeated in hand-to-hand fighting with Marines, losing about 800 of their number, while the Marines lost forty-four dead and seventy-one wounded.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    They were superior only after they learned how to fight the Japanese forces properly and to conduct proper defense in depth and from proper mutually supporting positions on the tactical level....
    Well, what ground battles did the Americans lose in the South Pacific? They began engaging the Japanese at Guadalcanal, where were they deficient in fighting the Japanese? I'd say it was the Japanese who needed to learn to fight the American forces. Apparently, they never did, because I can't think of a single ground battle the Japanese won against American ground forces after Corregidor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    If you've read Franks closely, he also pretty clearly indicates that many in the West thought the Japanese be something of 'fanatical savages' virtually undefeatable on the ground by the soft boys raised under a democracy, a sentiment echoed in Atkin's An Army at Dawn as an overall fear in going against the Axis powers. And that US morale was questionable and shaky prior to the initiation of ground operations...
    No, that is not what Frank says, or implies, at all.

    "Guadalcanal", Page152;

    "For nine months, Allied [As opposed to American] units had sometimes bolted to the rear abandoning duty and dignity when confronted by shrieking Japanese infantry like Ichiki's veterans. Pollock's Marines were grass-green, but resolute....Stories of courageous and desperate struggles by individual Marines abounded, but one episode involving the three-man crew of a machine gun....entered American folklore. The gunner, Private John Rivers,... slammed hundreds of rounds into the on-rushing phalanx until a bullet struck him in the face and killed him....Corporal Lee Diamond then fired the gun until wounded in the arm. His place was taken by Private Albert A. Schmid, who fired until an exploding grenade flung him from the gun...and blinded him, but he crawled back to his post and fought on with a pistol."

    Page 157;

    "If Japanese strategists hoped this willingness to die virtually to the last man would cause westerners to blanch at the brutal implications of such battle ethics, the actions of the Marines...would have given them food for thought. If the Japanese wanted to fight to the death with no quarter asked or given, the Marines were ready to oblige them fully."


    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Then they took over most of the Pacific rim how?

    Another overgeneralization with no context...
    Oh, come on, That's too easy. The Japanese took over areas that were lightly defended by poorly trained, equipped, and led troops, or areas not defended at all, such as Borneo. They expanded into millions of square miles of territory that, for the most part was worthless and thus undefended. The territories of Sumatra, Java, and Malaya were the only real prizes. Even Singapore was worthless because the naval base there had no ships, and the airfields few if any planes that weren't obsolete.

    Ask yourself when did the Japanese first encounter large numbers of American troops with adequate air power and naval support? Then ask yourself if they won any territory after that point in time. If you're honest you'll have to admit the answer is no.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I agree that it backfired, but I think you're wrong if think Americans were not impressed!....
    Certainly not in the way in which the Japanese hoped. It didn't cause the Americans to be awed at a people who were so willing to die for a principle; it caused the Americans to become angry at the Japanese because they were so intransigent about admitting defeat. I've spoken to men who went through that campaign; the dominant feeling was, "How can people be so stupid as to throw their lives away after the war is so obviously lost?" There was no respect for the kamikaze pilots, only disgust.
    Last edited by Wizard; 01-18-2010 at 01:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    IIRC the IJN pre-war pilot training program was two years or maybe a bit longer. I don't recall seeing flying hours for that course but my recollection is that it involved intensive training in air combat, inlcuding an emphasis on team tactics contrary to comments that the Japanese didn't employ them.

    I seem to recall that all Pearl Harbor IJN pilots had at least 500 hours and many had a lot more than that.
    Well, Alzheimer's notwithstanding, I was reasonably close.

    A better informed than me short article here, based on sources that both Nick and Wizard have quoted.

    Aircraft Pilots

    Aircraft proved a decisive weapon during the Pacific War. However, no weapon can be better than the men who use it. The Japanese had a clear edge in pilot skill when war broke out, but the Pacific War was characterized by a steady improvement in Allied aircraft pilot skills and a steady degradation in Japanese pilot skill.
    Japanese pilots

    The Japanese Navy began the war with superbly trained pilots. None of the Japanese pilots involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor had logged less than 600 hours of flying time, and many flight leaders had over 1500 hours’ experience. Flying the excellent Zero, these pilots were able to sweep opposing aircraft out of the skies of the southwest Pacific in the early months of the war.

    Japanese naval pilot training emphasized quality over quantity. Selection criteria were so strict that no more than 100 pilot candidates were accepted in some years. The training course took more than two years and was brutally demanding. Emphasis was placed on aerial maneuvers appropriate for dogfights, such as the characteristic hineri-komi or “turning-in” maneuver that many Allied pilots described as a “falling-leaf” maneuver. Navy fighter pilots were trained to work in the three-plane shotai, and this training continued after assignment to operational units, so that the pilots in a shotai developed a sixth sense for each other’s reactions. This helped compensate for the very poor radio equipment in most Japanese aircraft. (The radios were apparently spoiled by unshielded ignition systems.)

    Japanese Army pilot training was somewhat less demanding than that of the Navy. The complete training course took two years and pilots graduated with 300 hours' flying time. Basic flight training was conducted in the Ki-17 "Cedar" biplane trainer and continued in the Ki-9 "Spruce" medium trainer. Final operational training took place in the Ki-55 "Ida". Pilots were then assigned to a flying training unit for six months, followed by assignment to a fighter squadron, where they received a final three months' training before entering combat. The Japanese Army started the war with inferior aircraft such as the Nate and took heavy casualties over Burma and China even in the early days of the war. However, the Army shared the Navy’s emphasis on dogfighting and had similar personnel policies.

    The majority of Japanese pilots were noncommissioned officers. This was in marked contrast with the U.S. Army and Navy, where most pilots were commissioned. Japanese noncommissioned officers drawn from fleet service were trained by the Pilot Trainee System (Sōjū Renshūsei, or Sōren), while young men aged 15 to 17 drawn directly from civilian life were trained by the Flight Reserve Enlisted Trainee System (Hikō Yoka Renshūsei, or Yokaren). Only a small number of college students were recruited into the Student Aviation Reserve (Kōkū Yobi Gakusei) to become reserve ensigns, although this program expanded rapidly after war broke out, training over 10,000 pilots in 1943. A dark side of the Japanese system was the great social gulf between officers and enlisted men. Even such superb noncommissioned pilots as Sakai Saburo, Japan’s second leading ace to survive the war, were frequently mistreated by their officers. Corporal punishment was an integral part of training.

    Because Japanese culture discouraged emphasis on the individual, Japanese aces were not given the same attention as Allied aces. However, especially productive pilots would be rewarded with a promotion, which amounted to a nice pay raise for the enlisted pilots. Officer pilots ran the risk of being promoted out of command of flying units.

    There was no system of regular rotation of pilots. Japanese pilots usually flew until they died or were crippled. Sakai survived the war because he was half-blinded over Guadalcanal: He mistook a flight of Avengers for a flight of Wildcats and approached incautiously from the rear, making himself an easy target for the Avengers’ rear gunners. Wounded in the head, he somehow made it back to Rabaul, but lost his sight in one eye, was sent back to Japan, and did not again participate in combat missions until the last, desperate days of the war.

    The Japanese system was suitable for a nation that hoped to win quick, limited wars. When the Japanese attacked in the Pacific, they held nothing back. There was no reserve of skilled pilots to speak of. Indeed, Peattie (2001) has pointed out that, when war broke out, 11 Air Fleet had been drawn on so heavily for cadre for the new Shokakus that its rosters already included significant numbers of incompletely trained pilots. As attrition set in, particularly during the Guadalcanal campaign, the training system proved entirely inadequate to replace losses. Though Japanese pilots continued to show superb combat skill through the end of 1942, by mid-1943 Allied pilots began to notice a sharp decline in their opponent’s flying skills. By 1944, Japan's supply of skilled pilots was so limited that many flight instructors were reassigned from training units to Ozawa's Mobile Force at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, in an all-or-nothing effort to stop the American counteroffensive. The outcome was the slaughter of the Japanese pilots in what the Americans dubbed "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot."

    When war broke out, the average Japanese Navy pilot had 700 hours' flying time while Army pilots averaged 500 hours' flying time. This had dropped to 275 hours in the Navy and 130 in the Army by 1 January 1945, reflecting a precipitous decline in the level of training of replacement pilots. By late 1944, a new Japanese Navy pilot graduated with just 40 hours flying time, while his American opponent had at least 525 hours flying time. Relative losses in combat were correspondingly disproportionate. The Japanese Army was likewise forced to reduce pilot training to 60 or 70 hours' flight time by 1945, while the U.S. Army held firmly to its requirement of at least 200 hours' flight time to the end of the war.
    American pilots

    During the 1920s, the U.S. Navy trained its pilots almost as thoroughly as the Japanese Navy. Pilot candidates had to be college graduates who met strict physical standards. All received commissions. Flight training took two years and emphasis was placed on deflection shooting and cooperative tactics. However, in the years just before the war, the Navy shifted its emphasis towards producing larger numbers of good pilots rather than small numbers of superb pilots. The flight time requirement dropped to just 305 hours. As a result, when war broke out, 75% of U.S. Navy carrier pilots had fewer flight hours than the least qualified Japanese Navy carrier pilot.

    However, the Americans were able to vastly expand their training program, in part because they had a much larger pool of qualified pilot candidates to draw on. It was estimated that 500,000 men in the U.S. had the necessary aptitude to become pilots, although arbitrary eligibility requirements cut this figure to a total of 193,400 pilots trained during the war. These included 35,000 U.S. Army fighter pilots. By contrast, the Japanese graduated just 46,000 pilots. The Americans also had a policy of rotating experienced pilots out of combat units into training units before combat fatigue made them careless. There were experiments with training noncommissioned pilots, but eventually the experiment was abandoned and most of the pilots involved received their commissions.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    .....
    With seizable numbers of reserve pilots and a large training program, and with the new Essex carriers not due to start joining the fleet until late 1943, the American Navy actually increased its training requirements. The pilots who manned the new carriers all had a minimum of two year’s training and 500 hours’ flight time.

    Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army gave its fighter pilots solid aviation training, but almost none in gunnery. Pilots arriving at Wheeler Field had 200 to 300 hours flight time, but some had never fired a weapon. Because the Army required large numbers of pilots for the European theater, it never attempted as thorough of training as the Navy. Quantity had to be emphasized over quality throughout the war, and an Army Air Force pilot won his wings in just 9 months with about 200 hours' flight time. Basic training typically began with in the Stearman PT-17, a biplane trainer, and continued in the Vultee BT-13/15 monoplane trainer. Advanced training took place in the legendary T-6 Texan and was followed by assignment to an operational unit. However, in December 1942 the Army Air Force organized Fighter Replacement Training Units (FRTUs) where new fighter pilots polished their skills for two months. In some cases, training was much better: P-38 pilots were selected on the basis of highly competitive mock dogfights after 350 hour’s flight time. In other respects, Army policies resembled those of the Navy.
    Tactics

    Prior to the Second World War, air combat was centered on the dogfight, in which fighter aircraft attempted to outmaneuver each other and get on their opponent's tail to deliver a fatal burst of fire. Most Japanese fighters of the Second World War were optimized for dogfighting, and they were probably the most maneuverable monoplanes ever built. The Allied pilot who attempted to out turn his Japanese opponent in a dogfight rarely survived.

    However, American air tacticians, such as Claire Chennault, came to the conclusion that hit and run tactics had superseded dogfighting. Allied pilots looked for opportunities to hit the enemy by surprise and from above, and if they failed to destroy their target, they simply kept going. If they were themselves surprised, they would head for the deck and perform a sharp turn to try to shake their pursuers. Maneuverability became the least important performance category for most American fighter aircraft designers, who chose to optimize speed, protection, and firepower instead.

    In addition, Jimmy Thatch pioneered cooperative tactics such as the scissors or Thatch Weave. A pair of Allied fighters would fly a few hundred yards apart and keep an eye on each other's tails. If one of the fighters was jumped by an enemy fighter, his wingman would immediately turn sharply towards him, which warned him that he was under attack. He would then turn sharply towards his wingman, forcing his pursuer to either break off or be vulnerable to attack by his wingman. These tactics were so effective that a saying began to go around: A lone Wildcat against a lone Zero was outnumbered ten to one, but two Wildcats against ten Zeros outnumbered their opponents ten to one.

    The effects of the uneven battle of attrition became evident as early as mid-1943. On 25 April 1943, a group of just four Corsairs defending Henderson Field engaged a group of 16 "Bettys" and 20 "Zeros" and shot down five aircraft at the cost of two of their own. On 5 June 1943 a sweep by 81 "Zeros" opposed by 110 Allied fighters over the Russell Islands cost the Japanese 25 aircraft versus seven for the Allies. A sweep on 12 June had a similar outcome. Such lopsided outcomes would have been unthinkable a year earlier.
    Aces

    The Allies gave much more publicity to aces (pilots who destroyed five or more enemy aircraft) than the Japanese did. An ace was almost certain to be decorated for his accomplishment, and particularly outstanding performance could win an American pilot the Medal of Honor. On the other hand, the brass saw no need to promote an ace unless he also displayed superb leadership qualities. Many aces, such as Jimmy Thatch and Joe Foss, had such qualities and would achieve high rank. Others did not.
    Top Imperial Japanese Navy Aces
    1 Nishizawa Hiroyoshi 87+ kills KIA 1944 as a passenger on a transport aircraft
    2 Iwamoto Tetsuzo ~80 kills Survived the war
    3 Sugita Soichi ~70 kills KIA 1945
    4 Sakai Saburo 64 kills Survived the war
    5 Okumura Takeo 54 kills KIA 1943
    6 Ota Toshio 34 kills KIA 1942
    7 Sugino Kazuo 32 kills Survived the war
    8 Ishii Shizuo 29 kills KIA 1943
    9 Muto Kaneyoshi 28 kills KIA 1945
    10 Sasai Jun-ichi 27 kills KIA 1942
    Top Allied Aces of the Pacific War
    1 Richard I. Bong Army 40 kills Killed 1945 in a flying accident
    2 Thomas McGuire, Jr. Army 38 kills KIA 1945 by ace Sugita Soichi
    3 David McCambell Navy 34 kills Survived the war
    4 Gregory Boyington Marine 28 kills
    6 kills with AVG 1941-42 POW from 1943
    5 Charles W. MacDonald Army 27 kills Survived the war
    6 Joseph J. Foss Marine 26 kills Survived the war
    7 Robert M. Hanson Marine 25 kills Survived the war
    8 Cecil E. Harris Navy 24 kills Survived the war
    9 Eugene A. Valencia Navy 23 kills Survived the war
    10 Gerald R. Johnson Army 22 kills Survived the war
    11 Neil E. Kearby Army 22 kills KIA 1944 over Wewak
    12 Jay T. Robbins Army 22 kills Survived the war

    As these tables show, the top Japanese aces claimed many more kills than their American counterparts. There are a couple of explanations for this. Many of the Japanese aces were credited with a large number of kills over China against inferior pilots and aircraft. American claims required confirmation from gun cameras or a second pilot, and postwar analyses of Japanese loss records tend to support their claims. Japanese claims were not nearly so well verified and may be badly exaggerated.

    References

    Bergerud (2000)

    Dunnigan and Nofi (1998)
    Frank (1999)

    Hastings (2007)
    Molesworth (2008)

    Morison (1950)
    Peattie (2001)

    Prange (1981)

    Tillman (2005)
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  14. #44
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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Ask yourself when did the Japanese first encounter large numbers of American troops with adequate air power and naval support? Then ask yourself if they won any territory after that point in time. If you're honest you'll have to admit the answer is no.
    That's a post hoc, propter hoc argument that proves nothing.

    It could equally well be applied to the Australians on Kokoda or at Milne Bay or Gona, Buna, Sanananda.

    Although at Buna the Japanese encountered large numbers of Americans (32nd Div) with adequate air support and, as Nick pointed out earlier, the Americans stalled and then pretty much gave up until Eichelberger arrived.

    I think that on a proper analysis of the 1942 Pacific war it will be seen that the sea and air wars individually and certainly together contributed at least as much, probably rather more, to Allied successes on land and overall than did American or any other troops on land, with or without naval and air support (e.g. Coral Sea and Midway being naval and air battles with no land troops).
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 01-18-2010 at 08:19 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  15. #45
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    Default Re: Japanese Military Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    That's a post hoc, he New Guineapropter hoc argument that proves nothing.
    So you really think that there is only a coincidental correlation between the fact that the Japanese were brought to a screeching halt when they first met American troops with adequate air power and naval support in the Southwest Pacific? If that is the case, what do you think was the real reason the Japanese took no more territory?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    It could equally well be applied to the Australians on Kokoda or at Milne Bay or Gona, Buna, Sanananda.
    And should be. The Australians fought very well in the New Guinea campaign. BTW, there was An American Engineer Regiment involved in the Milne Bay battle, along with the Australians. And air power in the New Guinea campaign was decidedly of an Allied nature, involving Australian and New Zealand personnel, not just Americans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Although at Buna the Japanese encountered large numbers of Americans (32nd Div) with adequate air support and, as Nick pointed out earlier, the Americans stalled and then pretty much gave up until Eichelberger arrived.
    I didn't claim that the American forces always decisively defeated the Japanese, only that they (the Japanese) were unable to take any more territory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I think that on a proper analysis of the 1942 Pacific war it will be seen that the sea and air wars individually and certainly together contributed at least as much, probably rather more, to Allied successes on land and overall than did American or any other troops on land, with or without naval and air support (e.g. Coral Sea and Midway being naval and air battles with no land troops).
    I think the contributions of sea, air, and land forces in the Pacific war are inseparable, and that it is impossible to determine which was more important in any given campaign. It's like saying the heart is more important to the human body than the lungs or the brain. Unlike the ETO, most objectives in the PTO involved building or capturing air strips which would then support further operations by sea and land forces, therefore it might arguably be said that air power was the arbiter of most offensive and defensive operations, but successful campaigns required the participation of all three arms.

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