TWO SUNKEN JAPANESE SUBS FOUND OFF HAWAII:
One of the Japanese craft, the I-201, was capable of speeds of about 20 knots while submerged, making it among the fastest diesel submarines ever made. Like other Japanese subs, it had a rubberized coating on the hull, an innovation intended to make it less apparent to sonar or radar.
The other, the I-14, was much larger and slower and designed to carry two small planes, Aichi M6A Seirans. The aircraft, which had folding wings and tails and could carry a torpedo or 1,800-pound bomb, were housed in watertight hangars inside the submarine. They could be brought onto the deck and launched by a catapult.
I had no idea that the Japanese had subs this advanced — though these didn’t manage to do any damage before being sunk. More background here. And this article says the planes were intended to launch germ warfare attacks. That’s a plausible role for small-plane attacks on big cities, and the Japanese, of course, had an extensive biowar research program. Another reason to be glad the war ended when it did. . . .
There is a program on the history channel that shows films of the I-400 series. Very advanced submarines. By far, the largest until the Polaris missile subs.
If the Japanese had been able to get a deliverable nuclear weapon assembled from the Navy’s nuclear research facilities near Wonson, North Korea in time for the U.S. invasion of Japan, they could have wiped out our invasion fleet.
The Japanese used Korea as a major war-production center.
After World War 2, the Soviets raced down and captured the Japanese Navy’s nuclear laboratories and they are now the focus of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.
The Japanese could have delivered the weapon by submarine-launched airplane if they could have gotten the weight down. Or they could have used a device, rather than a weapon, by building a lab in the submarine and detonated it under our fleet in a suicide mission.
The Japanese could also have detonated a device underwater off the West Coast of the United States and the radioactive fallout would have been devastating.
Oh, I’m sure they wouldn’t have done that. It’s only the horrible, evil, racist, warmongering Americans who would ever do such a thing.
Don’t you pay attention every August when the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki comes around? Right here on this very forum, you could float both of those submarines in the tears shed for the poor, innocent victimized Japanese who would never have done anything to hurt anyone. :rolleyes:
While the Japanese did, in fact, have very advanced submarines, it is my understanding that the Imperial Admiralty did not think very much of them and instead focused on more conventional surface ships such.
What’s very scary is that the Japanese were very much into biological warfare and the atrocities committed by Japanese scientists in their research is overshadowed only by the Nazi’s. Chinese, among others, were used as lab rats for unconventional weapons. Worse, these crimes against humanity were pardoned by the U.S. in order to coerce the scientists researching such horrible weapons into sharing their findings, but the U.S. found out that these murderers actually knew very little (much in the same way Nazi scientists were pardoned so as to gain their knowledge to use against the Soviets).
I’m really interested by the fact that, on one hand, the Imperial military command had a number of rather brilliant strategists and innovators, foremost among them Adm. Yamamoto, but on the other it tended to stifle military innovation. I can’t think of any other nation involved in WWII that did not adopt, for example, a sub-machine gun into its arsenal. The “Zero” fighter was astounding for years leading up to the war, so much so that military observers in China were told that they were lying when they told their superiors (i.e. in the U.S. War Dept.) about the capabilities of the Zero that they witnessed firsthand. But the Japanese didn’t, or couldn’t, replace the Zero as it became outclassed by newer Allied planes.
The Imperial high command, and this seems incredulous looking back on it, thought such technical innovations and improvements were petty in contrast to a soldier’s/sailor’s/pilot’s “fighting spirit.” That is, all the most up-to-date aircraft in the world meant nothing in comparison. This seems rather odd considering the Japanese had no qualms adapting…oh, crud…what machine gun was it…well, they took an Allied machine gun and adopted it as there own for their own use. I can’t remember which one it was, though, I’ll get back to you on that.
What’s really cool about Japanese military innovation was its forrays into rocketry and microwaves to be used as a so-called “death ray.”
Those that believe only America is evil enough to ever use a nuke. These folks are loons at best.
Those who are horrified at the destructive and indiscriminate power of atomic weapons and want the world to remember just how awful they are, lest some loser think that it may be to his advantage to use one on his enemies in a war of agression.
Those are two pretty different groups and it is not fair to deride them both equally.
I read an interesting historians opinion that if the Japanese had focused on the Pearl Harbor fuel depots rather than the battleships, they would have had a much better chance of winning. Maybe that’s what the plane carrier sub was after…
In Japan’s Secret War, by Robert Wilcox, it is recounted how David Snell of the Twenty-fourth Criminal Investigation Detachment wrote about this in the Atlanta Constitution in 1946 following his discharge. He (Snell) had previously interviewed many of the sources for the story of Japan’s atomic bomb project, including a security officer. The man claimed Japan actually (successfully) tested an atomic device on an islet in the Sea of Japan on August 10.
To me, the most chilling possibility would have been if the bomb had successfully been tested just a few days earlier. Japan might have used it against Soviet troops invading Manchuria, driving them back out and safeguarding its means for producing more bombs at the Hungnam complex in northern Korea.
In the meantime, they could have run a bluff and claimed to have many such devices, and could have disseminated the claim through a variety of means, insuring that the American media and the public would eventually get wind of it. Then Truman would have had to consider the possibility of Japanese retaliation for Hiroshima (against American-held islands, for instance), and the suicidal nature of any attempt at invading Japan.
He might have been forced to negotiate peace with Japan still holding most of southeast Asia–the outcome they had hoped for in the first place.
I hadn’t heard any notion that they were intending to use these planes to drop germ bombs. I do know they contemplated using them to bomb the locks on the Panama Canal, rendering the Canal inoperable for a minimum of two years, with all the logistical headaches that would have posed for the American war effort in the Pacific.
Admiral Nimitz himself said all the fuel at Pearl Harbor was stored in above-ground tanks at the time, and a few Zeros and a few 30-caliber bullets could have detonated them. The fleet would have been forced to stick close to Hawaii for up to year or more while new fuel reservoirs were built and more fuel shlepped over from the West coast.
Leaving the battleship fleet intact might have been to Japan’s advantage, too. At the time, American naval battle doctrine centered on battleship forces, with carriers only providing air cover for them–not as an offensive instrument in themselves.
So, in this scenario, the American fleet, once it had its needed fuel reserves built up again (late 1942 or early 1943), would have steamed west, spoiling for a surface engagement–against Japanese carrier forces and against an island perimeter which would probably now be stocked with fuel depots and protected by long-range bombers.
Getting sunk over THERE, in deep waters, the American battleships couldn’t be raised and repaired like they were at Pearl. They’d be lost for good. Ditto for the carriers.
As a result of a decisive engagement like that, Japan would probably have bought itself a couple more years in which to fortify its perimeter, refine and ship and stockpile fuel from their new oilfields in Indonesia, and perhaps even develop the atomic bomb while they were at it.
In addition to the two nukes used in Japan, another nuke was used to bring the Korean War to a close. [Actually, the Korean War never actually ended; there is only an uneasy truce.]
When Dwight Eisenhower was campaigning for President, he promised to end the Korean War.
What he did was to personally (and quietly) threaten to use the atomic bomb. Then he fired Atomic Annie (a 280mm cannon that could fire a nuclear artillery shell) at Frenchman’s Flat in the Nevada Test Site, a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada, and did so in full view of a bunch of newsmedia people. Then he shipped a bunch of atomic cannons to Korea with all of the documentation in the clear, unencrypted, so anyone could learn about the shipment.
So, the Chinese and North Koreans had before them all of the evidence that they were about to get nuked.
And so there was an incentive to bring the fighting to a close.
Yesterday, I was browsing through a bookstore and in the sale books they had this one, which I bought but have not yet read:
“Battleground Atlantic: How the sinking of a single Japanese submarine assured the outcome of World War II”
Author: Richard N. Billings.
Rear cover: "What if the Japanese had resorted to the ‘Dirty Bomb?’ "
Summary of rear cover summary: June 24, 1944 US Navy patrol planes sank Japanese submarine I-52 in mid-Atlantic. It was carrying “lethal ingredients of a radiological bomb” and has been kept secret until now. Revelations came up because Paul Tidwell found the I-52 in 18,000 feet of water and tried to salvage the gold bullion aboard.
Heard these things from one guy who had been a security guard at the talks at the DMZ and from another guy who had been a comm center clerk - the comms were unencrypted so the Russians could read them without having to attempt to decrypt first.
Both guys are probably long gone now.
The Atomic Annie story was public at the time. Saw it on television. Never classified.
Somebody should write a paper or a book tieing it all together.
I agree with you completely.One has only to read the history of the Canadian Regimements who fought at the fall of Hong Kong and the survivors treatment at the hands of this gentle,bonsai-growing,and cultured people.The Japanese people themselves have NO concept of their nations culpabilty as unlike the Germans they never were taught their complicity in horror during world war two.
Remember it took TWO bombs to ensure their surrender.If the bombs had not been dropped several million allied soldiers and millions upon millions of Japanese civilians would have died.One only has to look at the resistance and fanaticism of the Japanese on Tarawa and Iwo as a precursor to what the allied forces would have experienced as a result of an invasion of the Japanese home islands.Japan would STILL be occupied to this day.
One needs to read Rising Sun by John Toland. Japan wasn’t nearly as shocked by the atomic weapons as people in the US have been lead to believe. At the time they did not fully understand that the damage was caused by a single plane and bomb - the city of Tokyo with over 3 million citizens was damaged many times more by the fire bomb attacks in May 1945 than were the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
What truly shocked them was the Soviet Union. Japan was using the Soviet Union to secretly negotiate an end to the war without surrender. They hoped that that threat of massive casualties that involved in any invasion would help their cause with the Western Allies they faced. When the Soviets unexpectedly (to Japan) declared war they knew their cause was lost. They knew the Soviets cared little about casualties and envisioned an invasion from the north similar to what the Germans had experienced from the east. Tojo had been fully informed of the devastation Germany had faced at the hands of the Red Army and had no intention of subjecting the Japanese people to similar horrors. Essentially Japan feared the communist army more than it feared the new wonder weapons that America had developed.
The “decisive battle” that Japan wanted so badly would have gone poorly for them had it been fought in early 1943. At that point the US had 6 new battleships - any one of which was near equal to any two Japan had except for the Yamato and Musashi. Most of Japan’s battleships were well over 20 years old and would have faired as poorly in a sea battle at long range as the old US battleships faired in Pearl Harbor. Of the existing battleships the US had in December 1941 most likely only the Colorado Class might have been included as "first class” ships of line. The rest of the US battle fleet was too old and dilapidated to have even sailed to a far battle in the Pacific without first being overhauled.
A sea battle with carriers would have gone equally as poor for Japan. In early 1943 the US could have had 9 fully worked up large carriers armed with planes (F6F) that could match or better the Zero. At that time Japan would have only had 8 large carriers and 4 small carriers - and most of their large carriers were older “conversion” ships with questionable damage control and ability to withstand hits. Where as all 9 of the US carriers could launch over 80 planes, only 3 (?) of the Japans carriers were able to match that number.
Well, in the scenario I just outlined (with Japan sparing the battleship fleet at Pearl), it wouldn’t be a “decisive” battle in the sense in which Japan spoke, that of ending the war, of course.
My point is, in this scenario, the US fleet, had it tried to strike back as soon as its fuel problems were solved, would have been going up against an enemy skilled in carrier tactics already, whereas the American commanders would probably still be thinking in “battleshipcentric” terms, with the carrier commanders not being overly-experienced yet, and the carriers not taking an actively offensive role.
Even if the American commanders had been imaginative and innovative enough to switch tactics mid-stream and fight effectively with carriers, the balance might still have been tipped in Japan’s favor by long-range land-based bombers flying from newly-fortified islands in Japan’s eastern island perimeter.
And if the US had committed the whole fleet to such an action, they might well have had to rebuild it all from scratch, giving Japan the luxury of yet another year or two in which to further fortify its perimeter, even if steel shortages meant they couldn’t replace all their own shipping losses.
The battle might have been crucial (a better word than “decisive”)l in affording Japan the opportunity to reach a “critical mass” in terms of building airstrips, stockpiling fuel, and deploying bombers on its perimeter capable of projecting heavy air power at any invading fleet, perhaps to the extent of compensating for all its naval losses, in any conventional offensive operation.
If, as you say, America would not have tried to send its battleships that far west, the net effect would still be one of giving Japan time and space to fortify its perimeter.
Japan’s strategists may have thought of all this, and just hoped Americans would eventually tire of war and wouldn’t have the stomach to rack up all the casualties that dismantling that perimeter would entail. They might even have been right about that–after all, people were calling for investigations after the Tarawa battle, in which less than two thousand Americans perished. Americans don’t like huge casualty numbers, and certainly wouldn’t have tolerated the numbers Japan or Germany or the USSR suffered.