Operation C 1942

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
glenn239
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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by glenn239 » 06 Apr 2009 23:35

Ok, so the limitation was not the inability of Japan to project power into the Indian Ocean per se, but to do so in face of American pressure on their possessions in the Eastern Pacific. Presumably, their argument is based on the US being able to exert much greater pressure on Japan in 1942 and early 1943 than was actually the case?

It leads to the obvious question – since they considered the holdings east and south of Truk to be expendable in any case, then why did they think they required the main strength of Imperial Japan to defend them? Is it not a bit of a contradiction to state that Japan cannot make the Indian Ocean the main theatre because of places like Rabaul and the Marshalls, and then in the next breath omit Rabaul and the Marshalls from the "real" defensive perimeter?

Did they give any estimates of an operational nature for the Indian Ocean? (ie, how many divisions, ships and aircraft required to take Ceylon, or whatever).

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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Apr 2009 00:58

glenn239 wrote:
The Japanese could never have dominated the Indian Ocean or the trade in and out of the Red Sea with the forces they possessed.
Any detailed information of an operational or logistical character to flesh this out?
Possibly the best way to understand the Japanese problems is to study in depth the twin campaigns revolving around New Guinea & Eastern Solomons from April or May to December 1942. The failure to effectively interdict the Allied supply ships to New Guinea or Guadacannal, despite a inital superiority in combat ships available and those that might make good raiders such as crusiers and long range submarines. Part of this had to do with doctrine. Raidsing merchant fleets was not a much studies technique in the IJN. So, they did not seem to know how to go about it, or even have much interest in it. Logistically the problems with placing fuel forward in the combat zone seems to have been paramount in the South East Pacific battles. The shortage of cargo ships hampered operations as well. Keeping the forward base at Rabul stocked with ammo and food for the ships ran at cross purposes with moving raw materials to Japan.
Ignoring the limitations of fuel oil--even after seizing Malaya & the NEI--Japan over-extended its defensive perimeter, beyond the original line of SAIPAN/PALAU/SORONG/TIMOR/JAVA/SINGAPORE, and almost all surviving high command officers later noted this fact, and its fatal effects on the war for Japan.
I don’t see Rabaul on that list.[/quote]

Rabul was part of the second phase of expansion. The rational for setting up a base there was to support further operations in New Guinea and then the Solomons. In that case it was not part of the network of military installations of the intial or first phase of conquest, but rather part of the second phase that grossly over extended the 'perimeter'.

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pikeshot1600
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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by pikeshot1600 » 07 Apr 2009 01:20

I don't think, other than maybe as obscure war plans in the files of the ministries, that Japan had any intention to go ashore in the Indian Ocean. Neutralizing the RN was the intent, and removing a threat to that geographic flank, so that gains could be made and consolidated in the Pacific as a preleude to peace negotiaions with the US. That was the fantasy anyway.

Truk and Rabaul were keys to the Japanese defensive perimiter. Guadalcanal, as an example, was a move to place air power athwart communications with Australia after the loss of half of the IJN's carriers in 1942. There was no grand strategy in that, just desperation.

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Peter H
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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Peter H » 07 Apr 2009 01:31

Thanks for the information on Sommerville's options Carl

/Peter

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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Apr 2009 01:46

glenn239 wrote:Ok, so the limitation was not the inability of Japan to project power into the Indian Ocean per se, but to do so in face of American pressure on their possessions in the Eastern Pacific. Presumably, their argument is based on the US being able to exert much greater pressure on Japan in 1942 and early 1943 than was actually the case?

It leads to the obvious question – since they considered the holdings east and south of Truk to be expendable in any case, then why did they think they required the main strength of Imperial Japan to defend them? Is it not a bit of a contradiction to state that Japan cannot make the Indian Ocean the main theatre because of places like Rabaul and the Marshalls, and then in the next breath omit Rabaul and the Marshalls from the "real" defensive perimeter?
My take is this view of the 'extended' or expanded perimeter was not considered "expendable" by those making the decisions in summer/autum 1942. When presented with the question of why overextension was risked the usuall response was "Victory Disease". That is a overconfidence resulting from many easy victorys from December 1941 through May 1942. A critical mass of leaders and staffers in the IJN thought they would continue to bitch slap their enemies indefinitly. The IJA who saw themselves as even more invulnerable encouraged this attitude. It was not until the situation in the Eastern Solomons completely collapsed in late 1942 that the leaders from Rabul back to Tokyo accepted that the outmost positions could and should not be contested with the full weight of Japans inadaquate resources. In other words for several months the key Japanese leaders saw those distant outposts as the new "real" defensive perimeter.

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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Apr 2009 01:50

Peter H wrote:Thanks for the information on Sommerville's options Carl

/Peter
Wish I had time to delve deeper into this. Not to start a WI, its already been done, but had Sommerville gotten lucky Nagumo might have had a really bad night.

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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by cstunts » 07 Apr 2009 16:53

Hello,

"Ok, so the limitation was not the inability of Japan to project power into the Indian Ocean per se, but to do so in face of American pressure on their possessions in the Eastern Pacific. Presumably, their argument is based on the US being able to exert much greater pressure on Japan in 1942 and early 1943 than was actually the case?

It leads to the obvious question – since they considered the holdings east and south of Truk to be expendable in any case, then why did they think they required the main strength of Imperial Japan to defend them? Is it not a bit of a contradiction to state that Japan cannot make the Indian Ocean the main theatre because of places like Rabaul and the Marshalls, and then in the next breath omit Rabaul and the Marshalls from the "real" defensive perimeter?
"

Too much strained "What If" logic here, and not enough reality. At no time did they believe they had enough naval and air power to defend the perimeter at all points at any given time. Hence the desperate quality of their obsession with kantai kessen, the decisive battle. I know you understand this...You say the US hadn't the power to really threaten Japan in '42/'43, but look at what actually happened: while they are out galavanting in the IO, using a "big sword just to kill a chicken," as one aviator termed it, the US plans and quickly executes the Doolittle Raid which upsets the Japanese tremendously and far beyond the scope of its material impact. (And do not forget the earlier raids we carried out in Feb/March '42, and the effect they had. Naturally the notion that we would oblige them with an early large-scale fleet action is puerile.)

Remember Yamamoto's cardinal belief was the necessity of a decisive stroke at the very beginning. The ramifications of this should be clear enough: they did not have the resources for a war that extended beyond half a year or so, and most of the IJN commanders understood this perfectly well.

And I never said Rabaul wasn't part of the defense perimeter. I suspect it had to have been, since it was taken very early in the First Stage ops, and so many resources were allocated to its establishment, etc. But the IO wasn't where the US aircraft carriers were, was it? And the IJN knew darned good and well that those were their primary opponents.

Finally: are you only now beginning to discern "contradictions" in Japanese strategic thinking?!! :wink:
Try to make sense (Western-style) of the "thinking" that led to their decisions to go to war in the first place!

glenn239
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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by glenn239 » 07 Apr 2009 18:02

And I never said Rabaul wasn't part of the defense perimeter.
You had written,

Toyoda believed that the Aleutians /Midway ops were an over-extension ('--"), and that the defense perimeter should have been limited to the Malay Barrier, "but not beyond that, down south." And in the Central Pacific "not going further east than TRUK" although he favored holding the Marshalls.

Toyoda appears to have omitted Rabaul and Lae – and if so, he cannot have been serious in this assertion so much as trying to pass the buck for the disasterous Solomons/Lae campaigns.
But the IO wasn't where the US aircraft carriers were, was it? And the IJN knew darned good and well that those were their primary opponents.
Yamamoto was after the US carriers. But you had stated that an Indian Ocean operation was (more or less) impossible, not that it was a lower priority to some other project. Those are two different kettles of fish.
My take is this view of the 'extended' or expanded perimeter was not considered "expendable" by those making the decisions in summer/autum 1942.
It appears from what Cstunts posted that after the war Rabaul, New Guinea and the Marshalls were listed as expendable areas by some Japanese officers. Also, these same individuals called the Indian Ocean out of reach in part because these same areas (that they felt were expendable) had to be defended. That is a contradiction – either the eastern holdings had to be held (in which case an Indian Ocean offensive was impossible), or they could be given up in low-cost delaying actions (in which case Japan would have considerable forces available for other operations). If the latter, it seems unlikely that the United States could secure the Solomons and the Marshalls before a Japanese offensive in the direction of the Red Sea came to a decision.

Rob Stuart
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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Rob Stuart » 18 Apr 2009 01:26

This is an obervation on the 20:35 5 Apr posting by Peter H which says that:
Ceylon eventually ended up with the equivalent of three divisions acting as garrison in 1942:

34th Indian Infantry Division (March 1942-June 1943)
6th Australian Division (March-Apr 1942)
21st East African Brigade (March 1942-June 1943)
16th British Infantry Brigade/70th Division (Feb 1942-Feb 1943)
This is apparently not quite correct. My information indicates that:

- 34th Indian Division arrived on Ceylon in Dec 41 or Jan 42 but with only two of its three brigades
- Only two of the 6th Australian Division's brigades went to Ceylon, namely the 16th and 17th Brigades. It's correct that they arrived in March but they did not depart until 13 July.

The info on the 21st East African and 16th British brigades seems correct, but in all there were only six brigades in Ceylon in April, ie, the equivalent of two divisions rather than three.

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Peter H
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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Peter H » 18 Apr 2009 03:00

Agree. :)

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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Peter H » 01 May 2009 03:32

Dallas Isom in his Midway Inquest states that only seventeen planes were lost by the Japanese in the Indian Ocean operation.In the 4 months since Pearl Harbor the Carrier Force lost only around 60 aircraft(29 at Pearl Harbor,12 at Rabaul,Darwin,the 17 lost in Operation C).

Egusa's dive-bombing squadrons also claimed another distinction:
In the most accurate dive-bombing display of the entire Pacific War,both cruisers[Cornwall & Dorsetshire]--maneuvering evasively at high speed--were sunk.Forty-six hits(out of 53 drops) were claimed by the pilots,an incredible 87 percent.Though the number of actual direct hits was probably only about half that,it was still a remarkable performance.(One hit in four would be closer to the average for Japanese dive-bombers against American carriers in subsequent battles,the first year of the war.)Egusa's dive-bomber squadron was the most skilled in the Japanese Navy.It was most fortunate for America in the upcoming battle of Midway that Soryu was bombed before Egusa's squadron could be launched...

Hermes..in another remarkable performance at least forty bombs(by British count) were delivered on the carrier and destroyer escort,sinking them in minutes..

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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 May 2009 16:18

Peter... is that only combat losses? I recall a much higher loss of "pilots" between 7 December & the initation of the Midway/Alteutians operation. Also , does that number include all naval aircraft or exclude thoise from the shore based groups?

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Peter H
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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Peter H » 02 May 2009 02:02

Carl--I think its only combat losses from the carrier group.

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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 02 May 2009 02:51

Ok. I was browsing the bookstore earlier with this question. I think 'Shattered Sword' has a paragraph or two on the naval pilot losses for those six months. But, alas there was not a copy in view :cry:

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Re: Operation C 1942

Post by Rob Stuart » 03 May 2009 03:08

On page 101 of The Barrier and the Javelin, Willmott says that "Between 7 December 1941 and 30 April the navy lost 315 aircraft in combat and a further 540 aircraft operationally." Of course, this includes land-based aircraft, floatplanes, flying boats, etc, and planes from the light carriers not serving with Nagumo.

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