Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

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der alte Landser
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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by der alte Landser » 05 Jan 2010 19:55

H.Schubert wrote:Thanks for the input Landser,

IwoJima was not a dream position to defend, but there have been worse, especially in early battles against china before the Shanghai battle.

The terrain on Iwojima gave not many favorable positions to allow the defender, to target a large section of flat terrain, allowing machine gun fire to repell a hudge number of attackers with only one or few machine gun positions. The beaches offered the best and unique chance to basicly shoot a will at any approaching boat .

The main problem for these positions would have been to shield them from massive bombardements, before the actual landing of the attackers on the beaches. There was no effective measure (or precise) measure for destroyers or airplanes to bombard close beach machine gun positions, after forces have landed on that beach section, do to the difficluty of precision bombing.
The terrain on Iwo Jima was well-suited to the defense and provided the Japanese with a significant ability to slow and impede the American Marines. The initial plan called for a campaign of not more than four days and it ended up taking 36, and that does not count the mop-up operations of Army units for basically two months in April and May of 1945. The Japanese delayed and slowed the American advance at every opportunity and made skillful use of terrain to build and fortify their positions. The evidence of the casualty statistics. The Vth Amphibious Corps had an assigned strength of 71,245 troops, and suffered 25,851 casualties.

The topography of the island favored the defender, with little in the way of natural concealment, no hard-surfaced roads, a commanding volcano with a height of nearly 450 feet, etc. The northern half of the island, named the Motoyama Plateau, was a jumbled wasteland of volcanic slag, with countless tiny arroyos, ridges and draws, many of which had no improved paths for vehicular access. The Japanese dug down into the island, created miles of tunnels, bunkers, emplacements, many of which were protected from indirect fire, and hidden from American reconnaissance until the moment when the Marines approached at close range.

During the assault landing on D-Day, the Japanese defenders pounded the beach head with indirect fire, this after days of preparatory bombardment from the Navy and multiple air raids by US bombers. There were literally thousands of Japanese positions, so many in fact, that there was not enough ammunition to destroy them all.

The Japanese knew they could not achieve a comprehensive victory on Iwo Jima. The story of the island's commander has been well-documented and he seems to have been a good officer and a sympathetic character. But his concept of operations was to slow and delay the Americans for as long as possible, effectively making the Marines bleed for every yard of ground. In January 1945 General Kuribayashi adopted a defensive concept abandoning the idea of strong beach defenses and the traditional Japanese banzai counter-attacks. Instead, he specified well-sited, prepared defensive positions with multiple interlocked fields of fire, hidden artillery emplacement, and stockpiled supplies for prolonged defense.

The map below shows the VAC landing plan with the objective lines for the operations. The color image is from Marine combat camera film and shows prep fires on an objective during the battle for Iwo Jima. Marine commanders expected a fight similar to Saipan in terms of the Japanese response to the landing with the Japanese coming out in banzai attacks to break their own backs, so to speak. This never happened (except in a small example too late in the battle to matter in the larger sense,) and instead of the projected 3 to 4 days, the campaign took 36. A great deal of the indirect fire that was shot in support of the Marines had little or no affect on the Japanese, since the volcanic ground absorbed the impacts so well, and the Japanese had dug down so well and deep.
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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by bf109 emil » 06 Jan 2010 09:43

The initial plan called for a campaign of not more than four days and it ended up taking 36, and that does not count the mop-up operations of Army units for basically two months in April and May of 1945.
yes but these mop up operation might have lasted into April and May, but in reality the held up Japanese did no holding up of the reason for capturing Iwo and that being the creation of a forward air base to be used to escort B-29 to Japan as as a base for crippled bombers in which to land, something the Japanese tried to prevent and something they where not successful at stopping nor preventing as hoped and died for...considering the first B-29 was able to land on Iwo from a now completed runway as early as March 4 (just a mere 16 days after the assault which began on Feb.19 opened) being the first landing, shows how ineffective the tactical defeat of the US Marines failed both in stopping and more so in preventing the Island being used as an air-strip, which was the real mission of the Japanese from preventing happening, not the body count they mustered against US Marines and somehow thinking their suicidal defense somehow proved worthy

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by der alte Landser » 07 Jan 2010 00:24

I completely agree with you. If you read my earlier posts, you will find that I am absolutely convinced that the VAC achieved an overall tactical, as well as strategic victory. I am simply adding information to my position that 1) Iwo Jima was well-suited to the defense, and 2) that the Japanese, although they ultimately failed in their mission, did as well as they could given the larger strategic situation.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by bf109 emil » 07 Jan 2010 06:54

der alte Landser i agree with your latest post...maybe a good what if might be...What the difference in IJA fighting a conventional battle on the beeches, etc. as Marines landed, as opposed to tactics used by Kuribayashi, which allowed Marines to land and beeches crowded prior to attacking

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by der alte Landser » 07 Jan 2010 22:31

if the Japanese had emplaced extensive fortifications on the landing beaches or on the open areas surrounding Motoyama airfield #1, they most likely would have been destroyed or neutralized in the pre-assault bombardment. The beaches were heavily targeted by the Naval Gunfire Support, not to mention the heavy bombardment raids flown by the AAF before D-Day. The Japanese garrison and its heavy weaponry survived precisely because they chose to conceal almost everything either in Mount Suribachi, or up in the Motoyama Plateau where it was much easier to hide and where there was much better cover then on the sandy areas on the flat lands.

The same is true for the expected banzai attacks that did not materialize on the nights of D-Day and D+1. The VAC was expecting (and hoping) that the Japanese defenders would come out like they did on Saipan, Tarawa, etc, to exhaust their numbers against dug-in Marine positions. Instead, the Japanese garrison adopted an operational plan not dissimilar from their forces on Peleliu that forced the Marines into the open against well-fortified defenders where the heavy weaponry like tanks and half-tracks could often not get firing angles against the enemy due to the broken terrain. This negated the fire superiority of heavy caliber weaponry and forced the Marines to fight at belt buckle range with only their organic infantry weapons.

The map I've attached below shows the heavy firepower on NGF assigned to various areas of the island. This doesn't include the destroyers that stood close inshore for on-call missions, nor the LCI(Gs) and LCI(Rs) that also provided close support. nor all the other assets dedicated to suppressing and neutralizing enemy targets on and near the landing beaches.
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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Delta Tank » 13 Jan 2010 18:53

To all,

Were there not other islands in the Bonin Island chain that had airfields on them and were less defended? I have asked this question on other threads several times and I have seen references printed in books about other islands but no real information. One passage stated that the fleet suppressed enemy airfields in the Bonin Islands prior to attacking Iwo Jima, or words to that effect. Anybody have any information?

Mike

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by LWD » 13 Jan 2010 20:30

Well there are several other islands that show up at:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source= ... 685181&z=8
but turning on the topographical features they don't look like good candidates to me.

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Delta Tank » 13 Jan 2010 20:37

LWD,
Thanks, I always forget about google map. I will look in a book I have at home and if i find anything I will post it.

Mike

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 13 Jan 2010 21:19

The other inhabited island Hahajima (sp?today) had an airstrip and I think perhaps one other had a rough/little used one as well. Both airstrips were small, too small for B-29 take-offs, and the smal size of all the islands with their hilly terrain precluded building such a strip on any others.

However your question brings up something a little "sinister" in my mind about the whole op. Supposively Iwo Jima was seized for 3 reasons,
1.neutralize fighters,
2.neutralize radar/early warning
3. provide an emergency airfield.

However,"Reading between the lines"

1 and 2 could have been easily done by a few intermediate air raids/naval raids on any/all islands that were a threat given US strenght at the time.
3. is where an issue is.

The smaller islands(hahajima) could have functioned as solely emergency crash landing strips for B-29's, however any B-29's landing there would have to be "writtened off"

Therefore Iwo-jima was seized not to provide an "emergency landing strip" that could have been done elswhere in the Bonins, but as an emergency TAKE-OFF strip. Realize what this means- The seizure of Iwo was actually done to save AIRPLANES not aircrews.
I.E.The B-29's we were losing in mid-flight were considered more valueable than either the Marines who died there and the aircrews who were saved

War is Hell, "Bodyguard of lies" and all that stuff

Chris

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Delta Tank » 14 Jan 2010 02:32

Chris,

I am going through one of my books entitled: "The U.S. marines and Amphibious War, Its Theory, and Its Practice in the Pacific" by Jeter A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1951. Very interesting found the answer will post tomorrow and it is not sinister. BTW it is a great book and you can get it on amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=s ... &x=15&y=12

Mike

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 14 Jan 2010 03:01

Delta Tank wrote:Chris,

I am going through one of my books entitled: "The U.S. marines and Amphibious War, Its Theory, and Its Practice in the Pacific" by Jeter A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1951. Very interesting found the answer will post tomorrow and it is not sinister. BTW it is a great book and you can get it on amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=s ... &x=15&y=12

Mike
Look forward to it, BTW. Your book is already online at that awful revionist site Hyperwar. :lol: Your Isely is the same guy whom Isley field (B-29 airstrips) on Saipan was named for, it is now the international airport , and Crowl is one those "official"revisionist US historians. So while I wait for your remarks , I'll note that it might be "canned" official US gov history. Hence there obviously will be no comment on "war economics" that put machines above life, sometimes. Bad PR, no doubt. Costs, human, in relation to other things, ,is not something to present "negatively", I understand this as well as any "general or high politician", I be a licensed "economist" AFATWIC, BTW.


I'll also note that my remarks earlier were rather "sorta of" an insightful theory, I presented it here to see if it stands in light of critism and the opinion of other forum members/readers. So I look forward to your comments to make something more of this topic.

Regards,
Chris

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by bf109 emil » 14 Jan 2010 07:44

Therefore Iwo-jima was seized not to provide an "emergency landing strip" that could have been done elswhere in the Bonins, but as an emergency TAKE-OFF strip. Realize what this means- The seizure of Iwo was actually done to save AIRPLANES not aircrews.
I.E.The B-29's we were losing in mid-flight were considered more valueable than either the Marines who died there and the aircrews who were saved
although Iwo provided a relief strip for bombers with mechanical difficulties. Was Iwo not captured because until then B-29 to Japan had 0 fighter escort due to distances, and Iwo provided a source for Japan to relay advance warning as well as attack heavily laden, un-escorted bombers due to lack of fighter cover from distances to/fro target?
I.E.The B-29's we were losing in mid-flight were considered more valueable than either the Marines who died there and the aircrews who were saved
Unsure if placing a value on one over the other is the reason...Perhaps hindering Japan in it's ability to make war by losing a strategic location/island might be a better term...along this same reasoning one might argue that B-17 planes and crews where less valuable when lost aiding ground forces in France/Belgium etc. by blowing up railway locals and bridges which invariably would have been captured, etc. but would have cost more army casualties so USAAF planes and crews where sacrificed, or a corsair or hellcat plane/pilot was less valuable strafing troops and lost supporting marines? (maybe a poor example, but along the same lines of thinking per say)

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Delta Tank » 14 Jan 2010 14:29

To all,

Here is what I found in this book: "The U.S. marines and Amphibious War, Its Theory, and Its Practice in the Pacific" by Jeter A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1951. On page 434 it states:
Before entering the Ryukyus, Nimitz was directed by the Joint Chiefs to occupy a position or positions in the Nanpo Shoto, a thread like archipelago of small islands dangling from Tokyo Bay south and slightly east fro a distance of some 700 miles. (see map 15.) Two considerations were uppermost in selecting the precise target: it must have beaches suitable for amphibious assault, and it must offer sufficient space and favorable terrain for several airfields. Among the Nanpo Shoto, only Iwo Jima fully met these requirements, and in effect Nimitz had no freedom of selection. footnote 4 The Japanes were as aware of this fact as was Nimitz.
Footnote 4, page 614: CinCPac, Operation Plan 77-45, 25 Nov 1944, ONRL.
I will skim through the chapter and see if there is anything else, but I recall reading about carrier strikes to suppress Japanese airfields in the Bonin Islands. Now another question are the Nanpo Shoto Islands the same as the Bonin Islands?

Mike

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by Delta Tank » 14 Jan 2010 15:10

Delta Tank wrote:To all,

Here is what I found in this book: "The U.S. marines and Amphibious War, Its Theory, and Its Practice in the Pacific" by Jeter A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1951. On page 434 it states:
Before entering the Ryukyus, Nimitz was directed by the Joint Chiefs to occupy a position or positions in the Nanpo Shoto, a thread like archipelago of small islands dangling from Tokyo Bay south and slightly east fro a distance of some 700 miles. (see map 15.) Two considerations were uppermost in selecting the precise target: it must have beaches suitable for amphibious assault, and it must offer sufficient space and favorable terrain for several airfields. Among the Nanpo Shoto, only Iwo Jima fully met these requirements, and in effect Nimitz had no freedom of selection. footnote 4 The Japanes were as aware of this fact as was Nimitz.
Footnote 4, page 614: CinCPac, Operation Plan 77-45, 25 Nov 1944, ONRL.
I will skim through the chapter and see if there is anything else, but I recall reading about carrier strikes to suppress Japanese airfields in the Bonin Islands. Now another question are the Nanpo Shoto Islands the same as the Bonin Islands?

Mike
From the same book sited above page 471:
. . .Be that as it may, the single achievement of note made by the Mariana-base bombers was in neutralizing and keeping neutralized enemy airfields in the Bonins, on Haha Jima and Chichi Jima, just to the north of Iwo, and most of the credit for this should probably go to the navy pilots of Task Force 58 and to Blandy's escort carriers. Land-based planes were weathered out from Iwo on both the 16th and the 18th of February.
So from the above passage there were in fact airfields in the area of Iwo.

Mike

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Re: Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Post by LWD » 14 Jan 2010 17:46

*** double post sorry ***
Last edited by LWD on 14 Jan 2010 17:48, edited 1 time in total.

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