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Thread: Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

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    Krieglord's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

    Hello there, I was watching the great WW2 documentary series The World At War lastnight and they make a point in the documentary that the destruction of The Vittorio was an inspiration or at least lesson for Japan in fighting their unconventional war.

    Specifically the attack showed torpedoes could be used at shallow depths effectively which had been a worry of The Japanese Command, effectively it paved the way to Pearl Harbour.

    So my question in short is if Vittorio had happened later say/not at all or in a different manner do you think Japan would have still gone through with the surprise attack plan or perhaps would they have gone about it differently (more dive bombing of the facilities then focus on the fleet? or strike easier targets like Midway?)
    Last edited by Krieglord; September 04, 2018 at 02:19 PM.



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    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

    I thinks so.

    For comparison this is an interesting read.

    https://thediplomat.com/2017/12/this...-pearl-harbor/

    Having decided on war, and not one with the USSR, Japan had to strike first. The was not a debatable point. My guess they simply would have prioritized more dive bombing. Imagine than the torpedo planes launched in diminished numbers with low expectations and reaming the first attacking planes for a third strike.

    You know they followed the book - a suicide attack of the Canal would have been very useful. Might have bought them another year.
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    Default Re: Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

    I don't know about the Vittorio, do you mean Vittorio Veneto? It wasn't sunk with torpedoes.

    US policy in the Pacific pretty much ensured there'd be a war, and that the Japanese would develop a strong naval air arm to fight it. Given the invincible US economic superiority you can see why they bullied Japan, Tokyo was in a no win situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    I thinks so.

    For comparison this is an interesting read.

    https://thediplomat.com/2017/12/this...-pearl-harbor/

    Having decided on war, and not one with the USSR, Japan had to strike first. The was not a debatable point. My guess they simply would have prioritized more dive bombing. Imagine than the torpedo planes launched in diminished numbers with low expectations and reaming the first attacking planes for a third strike.

    You know they followed the book - a suicide attack of the Canal would have been very useful. Might have bought them another year.
    Good get, I didn't know about that book.

    The US Japanese conflict was long foreshadowed. The British Empire had a useful alliance with Japan (it helped contain Russia in the Pacific in the 1890's), despite Australian objections. US interests in China clashed very directly with Japans and they crow-barred the UK and Japan apart in the 1920's, insisting on the proportions of capital ships (excluding carriers) at 5:5:3, with the US and UK allowed 5 BBs for every 3 Japanese BBs.

    Since carriers were not included Japan developed its naval air arm, with some very effective designs despite a tiny economy.

    You have to admire Japan's extraordinary efforts to modernise from the late 19th century, and their initial colonial sins are common to Western powers. I don't think we can blame later Japanese militarism solely on Western exclusion, but as with Hitler we did help them become militaristic monsters in the 1930's.
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    NorseThing's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

    I think the Japanese had already committed themselves to war when they allied with the Germans and the Italians. Anything that they learned from the early days of the war in Mediterranean might have helped tactically, the not the strategic decisions. Those bigger decisions were already made.

    If anything, the Japanese had erred in placing too great a weight on the heavy battleships at Pearl even though their own navy was relying on the air power of the carriers. The timing of the Pearl attack was probably due to German insistence that the Japanese do something, anything to help. Japan had pretty much no oil supplies after the USA embargo. It was pretty much all keyed on Japan staying in China.

    Why would the Japanese start a war with the USA by striking at Midway? That makes no military sense.

    If Japan was to continue in China, they needed oil and that meant the Dutch East Indies. That in turn would force the issue, thus the Pearl attack was to at least minimize the damage of an eventual USA entry in a pacific war.

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    Diocle's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by Krieglord View Post
    Hello there, I was watching the great WW2 documentary series The World At War lastnight and they make a point in the documentary that the destruction of The Vittorio was an inspiration or at least lesson for Japan in fighting their unconventional war.

    Specifically the attack showed torpedoes could be used at shallow depths effectively which had been a worry of The Japanese Command, effectively it paved the way to Pearl Harbour.

    So my question in short is if Vittorio had happened later say/not at all or in a different manner do you think Japan would have still gone through with the surprise attack plan or perhaps would they have gone about it differently (more dive bombing of the facilities then focus on the fleet? or strike easier targets like Midway?)
    I don't know about any Italian ship named Vittorio.

    Is it possible you misunderstood the name of the ship? Did you mean the Littorio battleship (actually she gave name to a class of battleships of the Regia Marina), heavily damaged (not sunk) at Taranto by torpedoes?



    .
    Shortly after her commissioning, Littorio was badly damaged during the British air raid on Taranto on 11 November 1940, which put her out of action until the following March. Littorio thereafter took part in several sorties to catch the British Mediterranean Fleet, most of which failed to result in any action, the notable exception being the Second Battle of Sirte in March 1942, where she damaged several British warships.
    .
    Last edited by Diocle; September 08, 2018 at 11:37 AM.

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    Krieglord's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    I don't know about any Italian ship named Vittorio.

    Is it possible you misunderstood the name of the ship? Did you mean the Littorio battleship (actually she gave name to a class of battleships of the Regia Marina), heavily damaged (not sunk) at Taranto by torpedoes?

    I believe that is the incident they were discussing, I just went back to rewatch that section of the episode of The World At War (#6), not sure how I mixed up Taranto with The Vittorio Veneto in general which must have just popped into mind..

    Minoru Genda one of the main planners in the attack said "It was felt that if war came and Japan were to fight in a conventional way she had little hope of winning. And so the idea was to strike a blow against The American Fleet at Pearl Harbour simultaneously as the war started. There were three main problems in attacking Pearl Harbour, the first was to keep it a secret, because if The Americans knew A Japanese Fleet was approaching then they would immedientely attack it. The second concerned which route to take and the third concerned the attack itself, whether it would be possible to use torpedoes in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbour"

    Then Genda was immediately followed up by an interview with Mitsuo Fuchida who led the first attack wave on Pearl Harbour, he goes on to say "The most difficult problem was torpedo launching in shallow water. The British Navy attacked The Italian Fleet at Taranto, and I owe it very much for this lesson in shallow-water launching."

    Those were the two interviews that inspired the question, war was almost inevitable with the embargo and atmosphere of the time and Japan only had a short window before the industrial giant awoke.
    Last edited by Krieglord; September 08, 2018 at 01:27 PM.



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    Default Re: Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

    I think the British attack certainly provided proof of concept if you will. But the technical developments that allowed the Japaneses to field exceeding deadly and effective torpedoes that could be used in a bay was the stuff of years of work. It was not something that was knocked out after all night brain storm after the attack on Taranto.

    Economic reality dictated some kind of sneak attack. The Japanese wanted to replay the Sino-Russian war. The sneak attack and attack on the Philippians was suppose to do 2 things. First of course damage the US heavily. But more importantly provoke the US to use the Pacific fleet in anger and attacking recklessly at the end of its logistical chain (in fact to precipitate the very battle the IJN created at midway at the end of its logistical chain)- critically before the US could relocate Atlantic resources. You can see this by the failure of the IJN to re-arm and attack Perl harbor again - the targets would have been the infrastructure of Hawaii. By Ignoring the opportunity you can see the Japanese commanders were not thinking about a long war but one they could win by a quick shock and than luring the US to a fatal decisive battle.

    Those were the two interviews that inspired the question, war was almost inevitable with the embargo and atmosphere of the time and Japan only had a short window before the industrial giant awoke.
    Or realistic policy could have prevailed. Japan could have suspended its rather pointless war in China. It could have simply attacked Dutch colones in the Pacific. The UK was not really in a position to contest that. I really doubt FDR could have gotten congress to go to war of the colonial possessions of an occupied European state.

    The legacy of the Naval treaties left Japan behind on BBs but as we all know in 1941 she was first out of the gate e with CVs. A logical Japan not bleeding in China really only needed to wait for FDR to engineer himself into a war with Germany to save the UK and then step away form the Axis that could do nothing to help Japan anyway. Talk of industrial giants recall it was only just back around 1980 that the consensus was Japan would pass the US as the largest GDP. I have no ideal if Japan could have manged Indochina and the Dutch colonies better than the Dutch and French did, however I think there was a fairly easy path for them to have them and sit out WW2 and possibly US sanctions.
    Last edited by conon394; September 09, 2018 at 07:39 AM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    Default Re: Would Pearl Harbour Have Happened If Vittorio Didn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    ...
    Or realistic policy could have prevailed. ...
    Of course what Japan had was Moltke style military planning (they were on the winning side in WWI, one of the few nations to really gain from the war, so there was no nee to change 19th century thinking) that maintained an Olympian contempt for politics, that then degenerated into feuding Army and Navy factions happy to assassinate leaders and even stage coups to wrench government policy in their preferred direction. A unified command with political experience might have made a sensible choice, but what they had was isolated Imperial leadership essentially hostage to warring military factions. The Western style political system created by Meiji was eroded as much by Western non-cooperation as anything else.

    We've talked over Japan's play options in the AH thread, and they don't have a lot of cards to play. They really have to get into China 1900-1930 because the Europeans are carving it up (the post WWI lull must have seemed like a perfect opportunity to make up ground), and if one power dominates China and/or Korea then it will be curtains for Japan (currently two US carrier groups stand between them and Chinese control).

    Once they are in China they are committed to a huge army and increased Western hostility (especially from the US) and pulling out will result in domestic instability (exacerbated by the US aggressive exportation of Depression). They are also committed to enormous fuel consumption, and the US embargo kicks off the war.

    If Japan bent the knee to the US after WWI then they would have been Cuba'd or Philippined, carved up and made an appandage. You can see why they fought, and how they fell into the unfortunate path they ended up taking.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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