Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

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Felix C
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Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Felix C » 16 Aug 2022 20:23

I was reading where by late 1943 Tarawa was being used as a refueling point by Japanese reconnaissance aircraft based elsewhere and the regular air contingent having left some weeks prior to the landing.

Did analysis later by the US indicate Tarawa could have been bypassed once the islands where aircraft sortied from to use its airfield were captured?

Or was the airfield regularly used by the US post-capture to warrant the attack even with the knowledge afterwards of the benefits of island hopping?

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Aug 2022 03:55

Felix C wrote:
16 Aug 2022 20:23
I was reading where by late 1943 Tarawa was being used as a refueling point by Japanese reconnaissance aircraft based elsewhere and the regular air contingent having left some weeks prior to the landing.
Tarawa is the name of the entire atoll that includes Makin island where resistance was much less than expected. I'm guessing you are referring to Betio island where a airfield & service facility were located.
Felix C wrote:
16 Aug 2022 20:23
Did analysis later by the US indicate Tarawa could have been bypassed once the islands where aircraft sortied from to use its airfield were captured?
Post battle/war analysis focused on why the intelligence dept underestimated the enemy strength in men by half & did not understand the strength of the defense works. and how to better defeat heavily fortified defenses.
Felix C wrote:
16 Aug 2022 20:23
Or was the airfield regularly used by the US post-capture to warrant the attack even with the knowledge afterwards of the benefits of island hopping?
The airfield was used post battle.

The concept of 'Island Hopping goes as far back as Major Ellis study of amphibious operations in Micronesia in the 1920s. Possibly further, the USN had been studying the problems of fighting Japan since the war scare of 1907. Different staff groups and individual officers had come up with multiple plans, but all recognized the necessity to seize appropriate islands as forward naval bases.

Delta Tank
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Delta Tank » 21 Aug 2022 19:03

Felix C wrote:
16 Aug 2022 20:23
I was reading where by late 1943 Tarawa was being used as a refueling point by Japanese reconnaissance aircraft based elsewhere and the regular air contingent having left some weeks prior to the landing.

Did analysis later by the US indicate Tarawa could have been bypassed once the islands where aircraft sortied from to use its airfield were captured?

Or was the airfield regularly used by the US post-capture to warrant the attack even with the knowledge afterwards of the benefits of island hopping?
I believe it was a mistake to seize Betio Island (Tarawa). The cost to take it was way, way to high. There were other islands in that atoll that were suitable for an airfield to be constructed, ie Abemama.

Read this thread: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=260082&hilit=Abemama

Mike

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Takao
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Takao » 21 Aug 2022 20:22

Hindsight is always 20/20...

Delta Tank
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Delta Tank » 21 Aug 2022 20:34

Takao wrote:
21 Aug 2022 20:22
Hindsight is always 20/20...
They knew or had a pretty good idea how large the garrison was. Why attack where you know where the enemy is, when you can seize/occupy islands where the enemy is not? Example Abemama, seized by a company (-) with very few casualties.

And then we repeated this mistake at Peleliu.

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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Felix C » 21 Aug 2022 21:35

I ask b/c by Nov. 1943 it was known the Japanese were not strengthening the air contingent there and the battle for Rabaul was absorbing Japanese air resources there from all over the Empire. Meaning the strip once neutralized of aircraft was useless and could not be resupplied. The Japanese considered the Marshalls and Gilberts expendable some time in 1943. Decrypts did not indicate this? Oh well. That is how my thoughts were proceeding.

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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Delta Tank » 21 Aug 2022 21:50

Felix C wrote:
21 Aug 2022 21:35
I ask b/c by Nov. 1943 it was known the Japanese were not strengthening the air contingent there and the battle for Rabaul was absorbing Japanese air resources there from all over the Empire. Meaning the strip once neutralized of aircraft was useless and could not be resupplied. The Japanese considered the Marshalls and Gilberts expendable some time in 1943. Decrypts did not indicate this? Oh well. That is how my thoughts were proceeding.
It is my understanding that there were no Japanese aircraft stationed at Betio Island, it was an aircraft refueling base and that was all.

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Takao
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Takao » 21 Aug 2022 23:03

Delta Tank wrote:
21 Aug 2022 20:34
Takao wrote:
21 Aug 2022 20:22
Hindsight is always 20/20...
They knew or had a pretty good idea how large the garrison was. Why attack where you know where the enemy is, when you can seize/occupy islands where the enemy is not? Example Abemama, seized by a company (-) with very few casualties.

And then we repeated this mistake at Peleliu.

Mike
And the garrison was underestimated by approximately half.

Abemama was fine for the large bombers. However, you could not further cram the medium bombers and fighters onto the same airfield.

Delta Tank
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Delta Tank » 21 Aug 2022 23:35

Takao wrote:
21 Aug 2022 23:03
Delta Tank wrote:
21 Aug 2022 20:34
Takao wrote:
21 Aug 2022 20:22
Hindsight is always 20/20...
They knew or had a pretty good idea how large the garrison was. Why attack where you know where the enemy is, when you can seize/occupy islands where the enemy is not? Example Abemama, seized by a company (-) with very few casualties.

And then we repeated this mistake at Peleliu.

Mike
And the garrison was underestimated by approximately half.

Abemama was fine for the large bombers. However, you could not further cram the medium bombers and fighters onto the same airfield.
Will try to find my book “Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa” by Col. Alexander, but IIRC he stated on a TV interview that they counted the latrines and came up to pretty good estimate of the size of the garrison.

So, how many planes were put on Betio Island.

Mike

Delta Tank
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Delta Tank » 22 Aug 2022 01:46

While looking for Col. Alexander’s interview on YouTube I found this, “was Tarawa Necessary?” With Dr. Daniel Rogers. I am about 40 minutes in, an hour to go.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZhDZ4yWhWc

Enjoy

Mike

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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Aug 2022 03:54

Delta Tank wrote:
21 Aug 2022 23:35

So, how many planes were put on Betio Island.
Im guessing that would be in the records of the 7th Air Force. They were operating B24s in the Central Pacific in 1943-44.

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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Aug 2022 03:55

Delta Tank wrote:
21 Aug 2022 21:50
It is my understanding that there were no Japanese aircraft stationed at Betio Island, it was an aircraft refueling base and that was all.

Mike
The Japanese had been operating the 755th Air Group from Betio into September. The aircraft were rebased further west after the first 7th AF raid in September, but used the airfield to refuel for regular patrols to the east. Alexanders count shows 30 members of the 755th present as a detachment. probably mechanics and pump jockeys.

Delta Tank
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Delta Tank » 22 Aug 2022 13:49

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
22 Aug 2022 03:55
Delta Tank wrote:
21 Aug 2022 21:50
It is my understanding that there were no Japanese aircraft stationed at Betio Island, it was an aircraft refueling base and that was all.

Mike
The Japanese had been operating the 755th Air Group from Betio into September. The aircraft were rebased further west after the first 7th AF raid in September, but used the airfield to refuel for regular patrols to the east. Alexanders count shows 30 members of the 755th present as a detachment. probably mechanics and pump jockeys.
Carl,
So, the airfield had already been suppressed and abandoned, it was no longer a threat as long as we kept it under observation, with a drive-by bombing every now and then.

Mike
Last edited by Delta Tank on 22 Aug 2022 14:16, edited 1 time in total.

Delta Tank
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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Delta Tank » 22 Aug 2022 13:55

To all,

Here is some information on US air units.

https://pacificwrecks.com/airfields/kir ... index.html

Mike

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Re: Did later campaign assessments conclude Tarawa should have been isolated and bypassed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Aug 2022 16:43

Delta Tank wrote:
22 Aug 2022 13:49


Carl,
So, the airfield had already been suppressed and abandoned, it was no longer a threat as long as we kept it under observation, with a drive-by bombing every now and then.

Mike
Not abandoned. It was still used to refuel reconnaissance flights to the east, southeast, and northeast. The last such mission landed eleven Bettys on the evening of the 18th, after a reconnaissance mission, They departed at dawn on the 19th a hour or two before the first ships of the invasion fleet appeared on the horizon. Japanese reconnaissance had been very active the previous two days as their intel analysts had predicted a invasion of the Gilbert islands 18-22 November. Its not clear if the bombs or torpedos were withdrawn in September of later. The Japanese had problems getting any cargo ships to Bertio or the Gilberts in general from September.

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