Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

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sonofsamphm1c
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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by sonofsamphm1c » 02 Jun 2012 22:42

Is there anything in the Japanese record that affirms the radar on Iwo Jima was operational in 1945?

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Takao
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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Takao » 03 Jun 2012 11:33

I don't know about Iwo, but I believe that radar stations on Chichi Jima remained active in 1945.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by donsor » 03 Jun 2012 15:17

I've been in Chichi Jima. It's an island whereby one can throw a rock from a beach and hit the beach on the other side of the island. We used to stop there for beer-ball games when I was aboard submarines. If there was radar on the island, a small commando raid could have neutralized it. After reading the opinions by all, I still sensed that there were some serious differences in tactics among the top brass that although it resulted in victory but at a high cost in men and material which could've been avoided without the rush.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Jun 2012 03:38

sonofsamphm1c wrote:They left Formosa. Many of the attacks on Navy vessels at Okinawa originated from Formosa.

Starting in 1944, Iwo Jima was bombed repeatedly by B-24s. The Japanese could do little to defend it against those attacks.

"The Joint War Plans Committee neatly summed up the study: "the one outstanding advantage to be gained from the execution of these operations lies in the denial of the use of the Bonins to the Japanese . . . this advantage is more apparent than real, since repeated aerial and surface bombardments should cancel the effectiveness of these islands as enemy bases, thus obviating the necessity for their cap- ture."16 Ominously, the Joint War Plans Committee further predicted that "operations planned herein are likely to entail heavy losses, and to divert forces out of all proportion to the anticipated value of these islands to us."17In accordance with the planners' recommendation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff shelved the Bonin Islands plan. ..."
"Should cancel" is the flaw in that opinion. The suppresive effects of bombardments derive from sustained and constant efforts. Intermitant efforts are unreliaible. The nuetralization of a target by bombardment has been called wrong more times than is practical to count. The airbases the Kamikaze attacks came from 'should' have been suppresed in the minds of some leaders in 1945.

sonofsamphm1c
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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by sonofsamphm1c » 05 Jun 2012 04:47

There is no flaw in the opinion. Capturing Formosa would have resulted in horrendous casualties. Kamikaze activity out of Formosa was significantly impaired, and at almost no cost at all.

Island hopping worked. They just didn't do enough of it.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Junglemike » 05 Jun 2012 05:22

I think that much of this argument could be used on the capture of Betio at Tarawa. 2nd MarDiv suffered 900 plus KIAS for that dinky island. A tremendous naval gun and aerial bombardment failed to knock out the predominant strength of japanese defenses. It had an airfield that would/was easy to neutralize but we needed to take it out in order to strike the Marshalls. It would have been easy to blockade or bypass same as Iwo. Betio was in the way, same as Iwo. One battle doesn't prove/disprove another but they have some interesting similarities (to me).

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 06 Jun 2012 18:29

Junglemike wrote:I think that much of this argument could be used on the capture of Betio at Tarawa. 2nd MarDiv suffered 900 plus KIAS for that dinky island. A tremendous naval gun and aerial bombardment failed to knock out the predominant strength of japanese defenses. It had an airfield that would/was easy to neutralize ...
Betio was bombed for some two months, but the airfield was still useable. While aircraft were no longer based there it was still used as a forward refuel site for long range reconissance missions. I'll have to check on when the last aircraft refueled there. Perhaps within a week of the US landing.

From studying the actions of the USAAF 9th AF vs German airfields in Europe it is clear that air bomboardment can only temporarily suppress the use of a airfield. The 9th AF found that Group & Wing size strikes shut down the runways for a average of less than 12 hours. They also observed that manual labor in suffcient numbers could quickly restore runways, taxiways, parking revetments ect... without much in the way of heavy construction equipment. One specific example might be the US airfields on Guadalcanal. The Japanese made intensive efforts to close that airfield with frequent air bombardment and several intense naval bombardments. In every case the airfield was operable again within 24 hours, usually a lot less, and able to receive reinforcements and launch strikes. Thinking that Iwo could be nuetralized by frequent airstrikes seems bit overly optimistic to me. Neither am I convinced it would have been practical to send a naval force to bombard it every few days.

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Takao
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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Takao » 06 Jun 2012 21:53

The Japanese recovered just as quickly when their airfields were bombed, most airfields were operational within 24 hours of being attacked by US aircraft. They were quite capable at repairing the runways and such, but it was the loss of spare parts, machine tools, fuel, and ammunition that hurt more. And, while the airfield may not have been capable of sustaining it's aircraft, it could still be used for shuttle flights of aircraft flying in to attack other targets.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Junglemike » 07 Jun 2012 00:00

I'm pretty much in agreement that the airfields were still a danger.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by donsor » 07 Jun 2012 00:17

What types of bombs were being used to bomb the Japanese occupied airfields? 250 - 500 lbs? Why couldn't the US use blockbuster bombs that could really do some damage? And while the Japanese were doing repair, does the fleet or air arm just wait until they (Japanese) finish with their repairs and then resume bombing/shelling? Couldn't the US forces have attacked the airfield while the repair crew were doing the patch up work? BTW, who had control of the surrounding sea and the air during that period in Iwo Jima?

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by sonofsamphm1c » 07 Jun 2012 01:01

Junglemike wrote:I'm pretty much in agreement that the airfields were still a danger.
Based upon what source documents. A better word might be: nuisance.

This is what the japanese had to say:

... our first line Army and Naval air forces had been exhausted in the recent Philippines Operation. The anticipation to restore our air forces, bringing their combined number to 3,000 planes, could mate- rialize only by March or April and even then, mainly because the types of airplanes and their performance proved to be impracticable for operations extending beyond 550 miles radius, we could not use them for operation in the Bonin Islands area."

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Takao » 07 Jun 2012 02:28

sonofsamphm1c wrote:
Junglemike wrote:I'm pretty much in agreement that the airfields were still a danger.
Based upon what source documents. A better word might be: nuisance.

This is what the japanese had to say:

... our first line Army and Naval air forces had been exhausted in the recent Philippines Operation. The anticipation to restore our air forces, bringing their combined number to 3,000 planes, could mate- rialize only by March or April and even then, mainly because the types of airplanes and their performance proved to be impracticable for operations extending beyond 550 miles radius, we could not use them for operation in the Bonin Islands area."
I doubt the sailors aboard the USS Saratoga & USS Bismarck Sea would use the word "nuisance." Then again, the sailors on the USS Lunga Point might. But, then again, those Kamikazes didn't come from Iwo, but from Japan proper. They flew out of Katori airbase, refueled at Hachijojima Island, then flew on to attack the American fleet off Iwo Jima. I somehow doubt that the extra 30 some miles from Hachijojima Island to Iwo Jima(approx. 580 miles) would make much difference one way or the other. Although for untrained fliers, 550 miles over open ocean might be pushing it, provided that there were no available aircraft to provide navigational assistance.

The officers statement/s, appears to be more of a comment on the status of the Imperial Japanese Army & Navy Air Forces, than as to how effective Iwo Jima was as an airbase. The JAAF & JNAF had been mostly depleted during the American campaign to retake the Philippines, and were in the process of rebuilding their respective air forces. So, it is by no great stretch of the imagination to see that they had little to offer in the way of air support/Kamikazes at the time of Iwo Jima. The only Kamikaze unit really committed for the defense of Iwo, the 2nd Mitate Unit was paltry(consisting of some 32 aircraft) and they had essentially "shot their bolt" with the attack of February 21, 1945(losing 22 of their 32 aircraft).

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Jun 2012 04:01

Hmm.. it was a extreme case but the carrier Randolph was hit in Ulithi atoll in March 1945 by a kamikaze. That attack was at the end of a 2500 mile course leapfrogging from a couple refueling points between Ulithi & Japan. There was no ironclad rule that only single engine aircraft were to be used to attack the USN.
Takao wrote: I doubt the sailors aboard the USS Saratoga & USS Bismarck Sea would use the word "nuisance." Then again, the sailors on the USS Lunga Point might. But, then again, those Kamikazes didn't come from Iwo, but from Japan proper. They flew out of Katori airbase, refueled at Hachijojima Island, then flew on to attack the American fleet off Iwo Jima. I somehow doubt that the extra 30 some miles from Hachijojima Island to Iwo Jima(approx. 580 miles) would make much difference one way or the other. Although for untrained fliers, 550 miles over open ocean might be pushing it, provided that there were no available aircraft to provide navigational assistance.
There is a question of volume of sorties. Were the airfields on Iwo still in Japanese hands & US interceptors not based on Iwo then more sorties can be directed at the Okinawa battle from that direction. Multiple directions of attack can complicate the defense. Then there is the increase in options for Japanese air reconissance, & use as a staging point for air missions to the south. re: the Ulithi attack.

It is easy to second guess these decisions in hindsight. To the leaders on the spot it was a lot tougher call. The Japanese had pulled some nasty suprises more than a few times and did so several more times. Leaving the Bonin islands & particularly the large base on Iwo only intermittantly suppressed looks a lot like trouble from the PoV of early 1945.
Takao wrote:The only Kamikaze unit really committed for the defense of Iwo, the 2nd Mitate Unit was paltry(consisting of some 32 aircraft) and they had essentially "shot their bolt" with the attack of February 21, 1945(losing 22 of their 32 aircraft).
For comparison over 1,400 aircraft were used in kamikaze attacks in defense of Okinawa. There were conventional sorties as well in substantial numbers. Over thirty US ships were sunk or damaged & US naval casualties were large.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Junglemike » 13 Jun 2012 04:34

Again, does anybody care to weigh in with an opinion on Iwo being captured to remove a threat to nuclear strike sorties from Saipan? Again, I haven't read or heard this discussed but I'm wondering if it was a mitigating factor to settle the issue of invasion.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 13 Jun 2012 11:06

I've not seen that cited from primary sources, it has come up in a speculative way from second or third hand literature.

It was possible for Japanese air strikes to use the Bonin islands as a staging point against the Marianas air/naval bases in general. Some reconissance flights were flown over the Marianas islands, tho those originated in Formosa if I remember correctly, and refueled somewhere to the sounth of the Marianas islands.

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