It has become something of a tradition for the Chicagoboyz web site to commemorate the major events closing out World War II in the Pacific, Where the worst recorded war in human history became a nuclear war — the August 6th and 9th 1945 A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — the Imperial Japanese acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, and the Sept 2, 1945 formal surrender on the battleship USS Missouri. See the link enabled list below —
2015 — Happy V-J Day, at 70 Years Plus a Day and Hiroshima, Nagasaki & The Invasion That Never Was (+70)
2014 — History Friday — The WMD Back-Up Plans for the Atomic Bomb
2013 — History Friday: US Military Preparations The Day Nagasaki Was Nuked
2012 – Nagasaki Plus 67 Years
2011 – Happy V-J Day!
2010 – Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Saving Hirohito’s Phony Baloney Job and
Hiroshima — The A-bomb plus 65 years
Since that ceremony, a whole mythology about that period of history has grown, driven by various institutional and political imperatives following those events. And in particular, with regard to the use of nuclear weapons to end the war.
This year’s Chicagoboyz commemoration deals not with those myths, but with the war plans of the US Army Air Force (USAAF) from May thru August 1945. Too understand the use of the A-bomb in August 1945, you have to understand it in terms of the context of those May to August 1945 plans, not the institutional games that came after, games ably laid out in Michael Gordon’s recent WW2 book FIVE DAYS IN AUGUST — How World War II Became a Nuclear War”.
The short form was that the USAAF institutional leadership, Chief of Staff of the USAAF, General Arnold; operational commander US Army Strategic Air Forces (USASTAF) General Spaatz and Far Eastern Air Forces (FEAF) General Kenney were trying to win the war with conventional bombing via
1. The Small City Target Plan — Bombing out the smaller, 100,000 person or less, Japanese cities within range of Saipan to ‘induce’ a surrender;
2. The Transportation Plan — A massive two month (1 Oct – 30 Nov 1945) long campaign intended to destroy Japan’s rail system; and
3. Beach Preparations on Kyushu — The proposed B-29 carpet bombing of Kyushu beaches on 29, 30 and 31 October with 100 B–29 per beach per day.
Between the agenda of the USAAF bomber generals to form and independent air force and the coming merger of the Navy and War Departments into the Defense Department, much about these three plans never made it out of the secret files — particularly the use of the then high tech SHORAN radio navigation system — to the general public…until now.
(More at page 2)
PLANNED BOMB TONNAGE NUMBERS AND HISTORY
Here are some air bombardment planning numbers from a 19 July 1945 message from the USASTAF Administrative headquarters in Hawaii to the War Department, courtesy of www.Alternatewars.com webmaster Ryan Crierie’s research into the 20th Air Force Record Group 18 files in the National Archives.
The plans above were merely for the USASTAF B-29 fleets. The carrier planes of the US Navy, and General Kenney’s Far Eastern Air Forces (FEAF) heavy, medium, and light bombers, plus USAAF & USMC fighters he controlled, would be dropping on the order of 1000 tons of conventional explosive a day in October 1945 in addition to the B-29s. Given 30 days in October, the bomb tonnage of these “tactical” planes would be double the 15 kiloton yield of the Hiroshima A-bomb!
For additional perspective, historically, the US Strategic bombing campaign dropped these tonnages of bombs on Japan with the these results:
Incendiaries —– 105,978 tons (USSBS*)
High Explosives — 65,082 tons (USSBS)
Deaths ———– 305,500 (averaged from numerous sources)
Wounded ———- 415,000 (averaged from numerous sources)
Homeless ——– 9,200,000 (Pittsburg Press 24 Nov 1945)
* United States Strategic Bombing Survey
This worked out a casualty ratio of
2.88 Deaths per ton of Incendiary Bombs (IB)
3.92 Wounded per ton IB
86.81 Homeless per ton of IB
The small city target plan — AKA hitting all the cities of 100,000 or larger that had not been hit as of 30 July 1945 — amounted to a Pacific Theater equivalent of “Operation Clarion” as far as its terror inducing aspects. See Operation Clarion here:
The USASTAF Administrative documents mentioned above showed that for Aug-Sept 1945, the following bomb tonnage drops were going to be dropped on Japan’s small cities —
80,066 ton IB
28,515 tons of HE
108,581 total tons
This would have caused, based upon the historical casualty ratio posted above, the following total Japanese civilian casualties:
Without the A-bomb, the USAAF intended to kill and wound 1/2 million Japanese civilians — and render homeless another almost 7 million — in further urban firebomb attacks burning out 84 square miles of Japanese urban area during August-September 1945. Those 230,589 Japanese are the minimum number of Japanese lives saved by the A-bomb had the fighting lasted until 30 Sept 1945. And this was before the transportation campaign kicked off during 1 Oct- 30 Nov 1945!
ASSESSING THE TRANSPORTATION PLAN
There are lots of things about WW2 that didn’t make the history books. The era of 1945-46 is a historical gray area where many “impossible” things were happening simultaneously, in the same armed forces/intelligence bureaucracies, and directly against the stated policy goals of many of the nation-state combatants. The institutional histories of that era, and the narrative myths arising from them, edit out those “impossible’ things for the sake of the reputations and power of the Elites. There is a reason Thomas Pynchon wrote his 1973 book “Gravity’s Rainbow” as he did.
The USAAF Transportation Plan for destroying the Japanese Railways before, during and after the Operation Olympic-Majestic lives in one of those “gray areas.” The actual plans of May thru August 1945 touched upon post war budgets of both the newly independent US Air Force and US Navy as well as — and perhaps especially — the leadership succession to General “Hap” Arnold as Chief of Staff to the newly independent US Air Force.
Starting with the “white” part of this gray area, are the two halves of the Transportation Plan. East of Kyushu, the railways of Honshu, the largest of the Japanese home islands, belonged to the USASTAF B-29 fleets of the newly transferred 8th Air Force on Okinawa and the 20th Air Force in the Marianas Islands. A figure showing targeted ‘choke points’ — tunnels and bridges — is below:
SHORAN was a 300 Mhz (AKA between US TV channels 13 and 14) radar beacon system for high precision navigation and bombing. In a well mapped piece of terrain, the system could set up two beacons to put a radio “X marks the spot” on any place related to those two surveyed spots.
In cases where the maps were bad, the two beacons could generate coordinates on photos taken by any special SHORAN camera equipped photographic survey flight guided by it. And the higher the photo planes flew, the farther SHORAN signals reached. SHORAN in many ways laid the foundation and set a precedent for the later Global Positioning System. SHORAN’s use as a mapping tool after WW2 caused many maps to be reissued, because of SHORAN’s accuracy made earlier maps obsolete. (Hold that thought, it will be important later.)
The full suite of equipment on-board a SHORAN equipped aircraft includes a AN/APN-3 Radio set, an operator’s console and a K-1A model bombing computer.
This was equipment functioned with two AN/CPN-2A ground stations with functioning radar beacons located approximately 100 miles apart. With this system, the flight path of the aircraft is an arc of a circle about either one of the ground stations, with the other station being used to determine the bomb release point.
The aircraft AN/APN-3 radio sent pulses to one of the ground stations and the system calculated the range in statute miles by clocking the elapsed time between transmitter pulse and the returned signal.
The SHORAN system was designed so that as the aircraft faces the target, the low-frequency station would be on the left, and the high-frequency station on the right. This allows four separate arc approaches to a target as the computer triangulates the two stations and the target.
The system was intended for accurate bombing runs in poor visibility. It could and did do a lot more.
Between January 1945 and the German surrender in May 1945, the USAAF’s 42nd Bombardment Wing (M) in France flying B-26 Marauders, and the 57th Bombardment Wing (M) flying B-25 Mitchells in Italy, proved the system was as good or better in any weather or visibility as the Norden bomb site was in clear air with a clear and high visual contrast from the background aim point.
[SHORAN 12 JUNE]
FOR MCCLELLAND, TRUMP, AND HENDERSON FROM GRIGGS
FEAF IS NOW DISCUSSING PLANS FOR COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM ON SHORAN – DOWN TO SQUADRON LEVEL, SO THAT EVERY FORMATION OVER JAPAN MAY BE SHORAN LED, AFTER THE INVASION. TO START SUCH A PROGRAM WE WOULD NEED CAPT ALDRICH, A 42ND WING BOMBARDIER, CAPT WHITLOCK, 42ND WING RADAR OFFICER, A CADRE OF THEIR COMPUTING SECTION, AND FROM RADLAB CHARLIE WEST AND BILL HOSIER, PLEASE ADVISE US OF POSSIBLE SERIAL NUMBER OF OFFICERS AND AVAILABILITY OF WEST AND HOSIER.
The plan was to have the few SHORAN-equipped planes drop marker flares that the rest of the bomber fleet would use with their Norden bomb sights to provide a protection zone for our invasion troops. In July 1945 Green joined the SHORAN Project team in its flight to Manila to work with the Navy team who would deliver the ground station equipment and personnel to two locations each some 100 or so miles from the planned Kyushu beachhead.
The document was from Lt Col A.V. Hazeltine of the General Staff Corps, office of Sec of War, to Gen Borden, the chief of the War Department’s New Development’s Division (NDD), that includes two letters from David Griggs to Ed Bowles — the OSRD Radar Liaison to the Sec of War — and to Lt. Gen B. M. Giles, the commanding General Army Air Force Pacific Ocean Area (COMGENAAFPOA), the then deputy commander of the 20th Air Force.
Griggs was a European Theater Radar Bombing expert with a specialization in SHORAN (AKA “SHort RAnge Navigation” WW2’s radio ground beacon version of today’s GPS).
Griggs two letters outline the 20th Air Force area incendiary bombing to date, Radar’s role in them, and steps needed to improve the use of Radar for the 20th Air Force small city attack plan, the Transportation Plan and the battlefield preparations for the invasion of Japan.
The small city plan involved the following —
1. Getting 60 inch dia. radar antennas, improved computers and improved plan position indicator (PPI) scopes for AN/APG-13 (also called “H2X”) radars across the B-29 fleet along with improved training;
2. Using AN/APQ-7 Eagle Radar equipped B-29s as “Heavy Pathfinders” for all B-29 Groups with the “NOSMO” integrated Norden-radar bomb sight and improved PPI radar scopes.
3. Adding SHORAN to the B-29 force.
Griggs ideas for that addition involved —
a. 25% of the B-29 with SHORAN A-kits (the racks and power cables for SHORAN electronics) and 100% A-kits on B-29s fitted to carry British “Grand Slam” and “Tall Boy” super heavy bombs;
b. US Navy submarine emplaced SHORAN off-shore ground beacons;
c. US Navy Lifeguard submarines carried SHORAN beacons with a special radar and computer navigation system for SHORAN beacons;
d. A special light pathfinder based the A-26 light bomber with specialized SHORAN co-ordinate generating photography equipment for visual and radar photo runs.
Ryan Crierie’s research into the national archives (aka NARA) in Maryland found this document confirming the submarine beacon program was approved by Adm Lockwood, Commander Submarine Fleet Pacific (COMSUBPAC) on 27 July 1945, after Lockwood fought it when first proposed to him 24 June 1945.
There were a number of good reasons why Adm Lockwood fought this proposal. The most important was that the original concept had his subs fully surfaced in Kamikaze filled skies close to Japan. Given that a Japanese Kamikaze dove on a periscope of a crash diving sub and heavily damaged it in early June 1945, this was a “non-starter. ”
This opposition changed when David Griggs worked with Mr. John Pellam, a civilian operational analyst in the Pacific Fleet’s Submarine Operational Analyst Group. Pellam found a way to use a Fleet Submarine’s periscope torpedo fire-control optics and the SJ radar to interface with the SHORAN equipment while completely submerged at periscope depth.
See this RG107 radiogram message, courtesy of Ryan Crierie’s research, below –
SHORAN 12 JUNE
W-40 GRIGGS FROM CUSHMAN.
EXCELLENT REPORT ON SUBJECT WE DISCUSSED HERE PREPARED BY PELLAM OF SUBMARINE OPERATIONAL RESEARCH GROUP HAS BEEN SENT TO CINCPAC PEARL ALSO CINCPAC GUAM FOR RECOMMENDATIONS. ONLY MAJOR CHANGE IN PLAN IS USE OF PERISCOPE ANGLE PLUS ST RANGE ON PEAKS OR ROCKS NEAR HORIZON FOR STATION LOCATION AND KEEPING WHEN VISIBILITY IS GOOD OR SJ ONLY WHEN VISIBILITY IS POOR. THIS IS SOMEWHAT LESS ACCURATE BUT MUCH IMPROVES SECURITY OVER OUR PLAN. CAN YOU DISCUSS WITH NAVY PEOPLE WHO MAY HAVE PIPELINE TO COMSUBPAC GUAM.
Pellam’s report to Adm Lockwood on these changes sold Lockwood on the concept. By the third week of September 1945 the first pair of SHORAN beacon subs would be field testing practice strikes with B-29s in the Marianas. If successful, they would have steamed directly from there into combat as a part of the 1 Oct – 30 Nov Transportation campaign.
However, to use these submarines successfully, points along the shore of Japan has to be located, photographed and mapped both visually and by radar for planned strike targets. And for bomb damage assessment (BDA) after these SHORAN strikes, a SHORAN equipped photo reconnaissance plane was needed for ‘pre’ and ‘post’ strike photos to assess the results. And with this, we return to that SHORAN photographic method thought marker I dropped earlier.
FA-26 SHORAN INVADER…ARRIVING.
The need for a light “pathfinder” photo plane capable of both visual and radar photography incorporating SHORAN was recognized at the highest levels of the FEAF and USASTAF. See the following General Doolittle (Commander 8th Air Force on Okinawa) to General Spaatz (Commander USASTAF on Guam) on the deployment of these specialized planes.
Spaatz Papers, page 164 of 217
01 Aug 1945
3. Subject: A-26 Squadron for 8th AF
From ComAF 8
To: ComGenUSASTAF CMDX 330 300144
When in Washington General Doolittle requested 1 squadron
of A-26 aircraft be assigned 8th Air Force. This is restatement
of that request and recommend A-26 aircraft be equipped with SHORAN
A and B kits plus 10 percent spares with test equipment and high
resolution K-Band radar sets with GP beam plus 10 percent spares
with test equipment. Aircraft to be used as pathfinders, for low
level attacks on pin point targets and for SHORAN reconnaissance.
Squadron not to be delayed in reporting at Okinawa because of
inavailability of requested equipment but to report. Requested
equipment may be installed in field as it becomes available.
Two months earlier General Kenney’s FEAF sent this radiogram message (again in Record Group 107) regards the SHORAN cameras in these FA-26 –
SPECIAL SHORAN CAMERA
12 JUNE 45
AS A RESULT OF YOUR CABLE, SPECIAL DEMONSTRATION UNIT ON SHORAN TENTATIVELY PLANS TO LEAVE FOR FEAF BY JULY 15. PROBABLE MEMBERS INCLUDE CAPT. WOODWARD AND MAJ. DIXON, ARMAMENT LAB., MAJ WINN AND ED HINSDALE OF RCA, TWO COMPUTER OFFICERS AND SEVERAL ENLISTED MEN. EQUIPMENT WOULD CONSIST OF 4 AIRBORNE SETS, 2 COMPLETE GROUND STATIONS, AND AN AIRCRAFT EQUIPPED WITH STABILIZED CAMERAS RPT CAMERAS. THERE ARE ONLY THREE CAMERA SET-UPS IN EXISTENCE: THIS WOULD BE ONE OF THESE. HOWEVER, ORDER IS NOW BEING PLACED FOR 100 RECORDING CAMERAS.
(Bold by author)
The unit that would be flying Kenney’s, Doolittle’s and Spaatz’s FA-26s was the 47th Bomb Group. According to Ryan Crierie Google Books searches; the 47th BG(L) (‘L’ for light bomber) flew A-26s in Italy, before returning to the US after V-E Day. They reassembled at Seymour Johnson AFB to prepare for re-deployment to the PTO for night pathfinder operations against Japan; but V-J day scrubbed that and they then moved to Lake Charles, LA for about a year.
Doing some more googling Ryan Crierie also found an Angelfire dot com site which had some interesting photos of these full pathfinder equipped FA-26s —
So, the trail thus far shows us that SHORAN had a major role at the end of WW2. And that it was known by all the major players in the Pacific war. Yet it vanished from the institutional histories…an example of Thomas Pynchon “Gravity’s Rainbow.”
The answer, as it turns out, revolves around the second marker in this article, the General Hull and Colonel Seaman telephone transcript plus the following David Griggs file excerpt on the accuracy of SHORAN.
NUKES, SHORAN AND GRAVITY’S RAINBOW
When David Griggs briefed General George Kenney on SHORAN, he made the following comparisons in the excerpt below –
The B-29s carrying the A-bomb — later code named “Silverplate” were equipped with the “H2X” radar Griggs mentioned. See how accurate they were compared to SHORAN (8000 versus 450-600 feet). Now read this passage from the General Hull and Colonel Seaman telephone conversation discussing A-bomb use in the invasion of Kyushu, paying very close attention to the 500 foot circular error probability (CEP) Griggs mentioned for SHORAN above.
General Hull and Colonel Seaman — 1325 – 13 Aug 1945
S — I have studied that a good deal. Our own troops would
have to be about six miles away. I am not sure the Air
Forces could place it within 500 feet of the point we want.
Of course, it is not that “pinpoint. Then the stage of
development has to be considered. The work it is liable to be
used for is more or less has to be the explosive effect. It
would be just a gamble putting or sending troops through.
H — No the same day or anything like that. We might do it a
couple or three days before. You plan to land on a certain
beach. Behind which you know there is a good road
communication and maybe a division or two of Japanese troops.
Neutralization of that sometime from H-Hour of the landing
back earlier, maybe a day or two or three. I don’t
anticipate that you would be dropping it as we do other types
of bombs in support of the infantry. I am thinking about
neutralizing a division or a communication center or
something so that it would facilitate the movement ashore of
And there you see why SHORAN in the Pacific War disappeared into GRAVITY’S RAINBOW.
There was no way a Silverplate B-29 equipped with the H2X radar could put an atomic bomb 500 feet from the aim point and be at a high enough altitude to escape the blast of the bomb…unless it was using SHORAN.
The B-29s for the Invasion of Japan were going to be equipped with SHORAN to be able to deliver nuclear bombs in all weather, day or night, on point targets like Japanese Divisional and Army headquarters, as were the photo reconnaissance supporting them.
And the secrecy about that fact — how America’s nuclear delivery system worked and how accurate it was — resulted in the Early Cold War scrubbing of the history of the end of WW2.
Special thanks is extended to Ryan Crierie, whose research efforts in the national archives made this column possible.
On 14 August, the 20AF with 115 aircraft bombed the Iwakuni yard, and put the entire Sanyo railroad line out of service for 102 hours. This was the only strategic railroad attack done by 20th AF in the war.
34 thoughts on “Happy V-J Day, Plus 71 Years and a Few Days”
Recently, I was pleased to find a picture of my house taken on August 15th, 1945. There’s a street party going on right outside the front door.
As wordpress has changed, please hit the “Page 2” button for the balance of the article.
Thanks Trent, that’s a great article. One point should be made though. America used nukes on Japan to deter Stalin from overrunning Europe, which was a very real possibility.
We saw how ineffective preparatory bombing had been with Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It makes sense that we were going to prep any invasion of Japan with nukes.
“… a journal specializing in the history of slide rules …”
Worth the price of admission, right there.
Great stuff as usual, Trent (and Ryan).
You noted several lost institutional memories in earlier columns. In the case of the Army tramways for use in rough terrain, it was because the technology was superceded by the helicopter, or rather it became a reason to spend money on helicopters, if you catch my meaning.
In the case of SHORAN, I wonder if it’s utility was limited in case of a SAC campaign against the USSR and the Eastern Bloc. Would the maps and photography have been up to the required standard for a campaign like Dropshot, for example?
Perhaps SHORAN could have been used against Soviet troop concentrations in Eastern Europe but wouldn’t have been much use againdt the Urals industries. If that were the case, the USAF might have decided to forget SHORAN – not “strategic” enough.
Regards this —
In the case of SHORAN, I wonder if it’s utility was limited in case of a SAC campaign against the USSR and the Eastern Bloc. Would the maps and photography have been up to the required standard for a campaign like Dropshot, for example?
One of the Curtis LeMay oral histories Ryan and I found had LeMay speaking of SAC’s the B-50 (B-29D model in WW2 speak) during the Korean conflict, in 1952, were SHORAN equipped.
Also, I’d rate it as a given that most of the early American recce flights against the Soviet Union — so many of which were shot down — were also SHORAN camaera equipped.
There missions were less about mapping -Radar networks- for SAC than to photo-map spots along the USSR’s coast where Shoran beacon US Navy subs could deploy wartime SHORAN beacons to support 1950’s era nuclear strikes against the USSR.
I’d also rate it as highly likely that more advanced transistor electronics versions of SHORAN, using different radio frequencies, were part of the 1950’s U-2 program, as at 80,000 feet a U-2 with a SHORAN camera system could see SHORAN beacons for about 500 miles (800km).
American ELINT sites in Alaska, Japan, Taiwan, Iran, Turkey, Germany and Norway would easily have supported a “Strategic Recce SHORAN” beacon network to generate two or three digit accuracy maps covering the edge of the Soviet state for about 500 mile/800 km.
IOW, by 1960 SAC likely had better maps of the Soviet Union than the soviet state did.
Regards this —
One point should be made though. America used nukes on Japan to deter Stalin from overrunning Europe, which was a very real possibility.
The first three reasons America used two Atomic Bombs on Japan were:
1. The American Military had two of them in the Marianas on August 5th 1945;
2. The American government had to show the Japanese military that it has more than one, AKA there was a production line for them, and;
3. The third bomb didn’t get delivered to the Marianas until after the Emperor surrendered.
That third bomb had Tokyo’s name on it.
We saw how ineffective preparatory bombing had been with Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It makes sense that we were going to prep any invasion of Japan with nukes.
First, naval gunfire at Iwo Jima was quite effective in destroying the Japanese coast defense guns that opened fire on the LCI(G) and LCS(L)-3 gunboats.
Second, it was very much in the interest of the US Navy brass to say that a seven day bombardment would have made no difference in saving US Marine lives than a three day one.
It was found on Okinawa that 1000lb bombs with seven second delay fuses closed the mouths of all but the most well reinforced cave entrances.
The photographic plan for Operation Olympic covered most militarily significant terrain every hour for the 10-days before the invasion, excepts for a few areas that were covered twice an hour.
The night time photo-flash bomb triggered SHORAN runs — cued by Ultra code breaking and radio direction finding — would have revealed where all the major headquarters and logistical areas for nuclear decapitation strikes.
Which shows where ULTRA decrypts identified Imperial Japanese Army units were located. Nuclear strikes against the following headquarters (HQ) Japanese reserve formations would have done far more good than making the B-29 carpet bombing rubble bounce at the beaches —
1. The HQ, 57th Army at Takarabe;
2. The 57th Army reserve at Honjo made up of the 156th infantry Division and 5th independent tank brigade
3. The HQ, 40th Army at Ijin;
4. The Southern Kyushu strategic reserve at Kajiki (77th Infantry Div.)
5. And finally, the over all HQ for Southern Kyushu, the HQ of 60th Area Army at Futsukaichi
This would use five of the six available A-bombs, leaving one plus additional production for events during the invasion.
Even if the HQ of all those organizations were underground and hardened, the wire communications, radio antenna and most importantly the trucks associated with these organizations were not.
Camouflage is no protection against 3 PSI blast waves would wreck about — an educated guess — 40% of the IJA truck fleet in Southern Kyushu.
It would take three days to a week for the IJA to regain military coordination after a SHORAN nuclear “Shock and Awe” on the night/morning 30 Oct-Nov 1, 1945. Enough time for the American beachheads to chew through the first line of beach defenses and consolidate on the initial objectives with all of its tanks and heavy artillery.
Photographic reconnaissance for Okinawa was limited by clouds. We must’ve been praying for clear skies for an invasion of Kyushi. I imagine we also wanted a wholesale upgrade in intelligence after Sugar Loaf Hill, where over four days we lost 3000 marines taking a seemingly insignificant 50 foot tall mound that wasn’t even on our maps. Maybe we could have dropped every bomb in the arsenal on that spot and avoided the whole thing, but the problem was we didn’t know that beforehand. For most of the time we didn’t even know where the cave entrances were because the Japanese continually surprised us with counterattacks that often ended in hand to hand combat. Command and control over Japanese defense of that hill probably required only simple instructions – shoot until you run out of bullets, then charge with bayonets and machetes.
Surely it dawned on someone that fighting tooth and nail like that all the way to Tokyo wasn’t too appealing. You’ve made a good case for rivalries between the service branches obscuring and distorting the effectiveness of our operations, but despite that the Japanese also did a damned fine job of trying to convince us they were hell bent on fighting to the last man, woman, and child.
Do we have evidence of Japanese underground fortifications on Kyushu? That would be the real smoking gun to justify the A-bomb once and for all.
Yup. It was within Stalin’s capacity to take all of Europe. You need to remember that of all German troops killed in WW2, it was the Russians that killed nearly 80% of them. Zhukov’s army at about 2.5 million was the one that took Berlin.
That army, among others, was poised to sweep the Allies into the sea. He knew he had to get as far west as he could as the Allies could not be trusted, and I would be very surprised if they had not seriously considered going all the way.
This is why Japan was nuked.
“Do we have evidence of Japanese underground fortifications on Kyushu? That would be the real smoking gun to justify the A-bomb once and for all.”
We certainly have hard evidence of such on Jeju Island then a Japanese colony but today South Korea. The US went to great efforts to make the Japanese think it was our early invasion target. The Japanese diverted substantial military resources against an attack that never came.
PenGun – Your denial of human behavior and reasoning never ends. Truman the decision-maker had many, many factors to weigh before making the call. Future deterrence of Stalin may have been one the secondary benefits but the record seems clear. Priority was to end the war quickly and with minimal US casualties.
The 1945 Red Army did not have the logistics capability required to conquer Western Europe before it ceased to have ANY rail logistics west of the Oder and Danube Rivers. Its truck-borne logistics, and rail logistics west of the Vistula River, would have ceased soon afterwards.
The Red Air Force in 1945 was incapable of waging an air superiority campaign against even a peer opponent due to lack of the institutions and C3I means.
The USSR would have ceased to exist in 1946 had it attacked Western Europe in 1945.
I have read that Japan had 12,000 airplanes hidden when the US came in and examined underground sites. They had only pilots capable of kamikaze attacks but plenty of planes.
Tom. History lessons.
The Yak 3 was very successful, there were allied pilots that flew it and considered it a better fighter than the Mustang or Spitfire. The Yak 9, the Yak 3 came after it, was comparable to Allied fighters and they made nearly 17,000 of em’. The first soviet aircraft to shoot down an Me 262.
The Ilyusin II-2 was the single most produced military aircraft ever. Some 36,000 of em’. It was called the flying tank and did ground support for the soviet army. It was very durable but very inaccurate in the first part of the war. Mass bomber techniques made them very dangerous however. Accurate armaments for them were staring to appear at the end of the war.
Just to point out a couple of poorly known aircraft.
I would be happy to play the Russian side in any war game you might name with agreed upon resources that are historically sourced. I have played over a lot of that ground before. Beware my hordes of T34s. You laugh … and then they overrun your ass.
When the Sturmovik and the Yak 9’s came up against Corsairs and Mustangs in Korea, it was dogmeat. The Russians have always made crappy equipment when compared to Western weapons. The T-34 was a fine tank when it ran. The engine was very unreliable and the transmission was crap.
I can guarantee that if the Russians had tried to take on the US in 1945, they would have come out a very poor second best.
Trent, thanks for the thoughtfull reply.
Many years ago I read _Fighter_ by Len Deighton, who gave a good description of the Luftwaffe’s knickebein system, early in the war. I’ve read that the knickebein CEP was about 1000 ft, and the following systems were better.
SHORAN seems to be a mixture of the German follow-up systems X-Gerät and Y-Gerät (or Wotin). I assume that SHORAN wasn’t developed in a vacuum, and came about after discussions with the RAF or the UK scientific establishment about the German systems or the British OBOE.
The Germans were greatly discouraged by the British countermeasures. Did SHORAN have some IFF included to prevent spoofing or jamming?
Just lol at PenGun challenging Tom H to a historical wargame.
What are the chances that the Red Army would have willingly fought their way through the Allies through France? They were driven by hatred of the Germans and their desire for revenge for the Fatherland, plus fear of the NKVD army in their rear, but I don’t know how many Russian peasant soldiers would have thought that getting massacred by Americans in France was part of the deal they were willing to put up with. Not sure how tabletop dice games factor that in…
What proportion of Soviet aircraft _in 1945_ had radio transmitters (aka transceiver – a single radio unit combining both a transmitter and a receiver), as compared to a mere radio receiver?
Regards this statement —
>>It was within Stalin’s capacity to take all of Europe.
Not…even leaving aside the issue of American Atomic Bomb production.
Allied air power would have made first Germany and then Austria, Poland and Hungary the same sort of transportation desert that France was.
And the Lancasters, Liberators and Flying Fortresses of RAF Bomber Command and 8th & 15th Air Forces could have carpet bombed any major Red Army concentration trying to force river crossings…just ask the Germans about Operation Cobra.
SHORAN meant Soviet Yaks and Migs had to come up to 20,000 feet, inside Allied Radar coverage, when the USAAF and RAF Bomber command went after bridges, depots and airfields.
Once the Allied Heavy’s worked through the that target list, the Red Air Force and Army would not have the fuel or ammo to keep Allied fighter bombers off the Red Army’s lend lease truck truck fleet.
SHORAN was conceptually a “Reverse Oboe.”
That is the high tech computational equipment and active radio was in the aircraft and not at the ground stations.
The beacons were simple devices that reradiated the signals from the SHORAN equipped bomber.
This made the beacons easy to relocate, assuming a well mapped set of terrain in the first instant.
Grurray stated —
Photographic reconnaissance for Okinawa was limited by clouds.
The photographic plan for Okinawa was flawed to start with and was also the victim of inter-service politics, as Nimitz diverted most of the long range Liberator and Privateer photo planes to the mapping of the Chinese coast for his proposed “Operation Long Tom” invasion of the Chinese coast that was supposed to happen between Okinawa and the invasion of Kyushu.
None of the Islands in the Ryukyu chain — other than Okinawa and the small anchorage they invaded a few days before — had been systematically photo mapped prior to the invasion. Adm Turner was using maps captured from the Japanese at Saipan for those, until his CVE photo planes got busy immediately prior to and during Operation Iceberg.
The original invasion plan called for the F-5/P-38 photo planes of Tactical Air Force 10th Army to do that mapping, but Gen Buckner monopolized on their use for the ground campaign.
With Regard to this statement —
What are the chances that the Red Army would have willingly fought their way through the Allies through France?
The Red Army followed orders. Period.
“The original invasion plan called for the F-5/P-38 photo planes of Tactical Air Force 10th Army to do that mapping, but Gen Buckner monopolized on their use for the ground campaign.”
According to both the Army Green Book and Marines History Division, Okinawa was too far from our bases to use any plane but the B-29 for aerial reconnaissance, which meant they had to fly above the clouds, but now that you mention this I remember your article about drop tanks. This is really surprising that the official accounts would be wrong. Buckner cost a lot of needless deaths with this and his single–minded insistence on frontal assaults.
Trent: So did the Tsar’s army. Until it didn’t. I’m just saying, in this discussion about technical specs and tabletop games, we’re talking about people here, whose parents overthrew the old regime in Russia, who suffered horribly under the USSR that replaced it, who hated the Germans with all their being, feared the NKVD at least as much, and like anyone else, including US soldiers, mostly wanted the war to be over and to go home. To act like there’s no doubt that they would have enthusiastically marched from Berlin to Bordeaux singing the Internationale while the US military savaged them every step of the way, is to live in fantasy land.
Victory is a powerful drug. After defeating the Germans, as I said about 80% of German soldiers killed, were killed by the Russians, it would have been no problem to continue from a morale point of view.
As well Trent, do you really think the Germans left any useful railroad behind them as they retreated? No, the Red Army advanced as it could across destroyed transportation systems. It was quite used to this.
So, what %age of Russian (actually, Soviet) KIA were killed by the Germans? You don’t have to answer that.
Would the success of your scheme depend in any way on the allies continued contribution of Lend Lease?
I think I see a flaw!
From the Wikipedia entry Penny.
Nikita Khrushchev, having served as a military commissar and intermediary between Stalin and his generals during the war, addressed directly the significance of Lend-lease aid in his memoirs:
I would like to express my candid opinion about Stalin’s views on whether the Red Army and the Soviet Union could have coped with Nazi Germany and survived the war without aid from the United States and Britain. First, I would like to tell about some remarks Stalin made and repeated several times when we were “discussing freely” among ourselves. He stated bluntly that if the United States had not helped us, we would not have won the war. If we had had to fight Nazi Germany one on one, we could not have stood up against Germany’s pressure, and we would have lost the war. No one ever discussed this subject officially, and I don’t think Stalin left any written evidence of his opinion, but I will state here that several times in conversations with me he noted that these were the actual circumstances. He never made a special point of holding a conversation on the subject, but when we were engaged in some kind of relaxed conversation, going over international questions of the past and present, and when we would return to the subject of the path we had traveled during the war, that is what he said. When I listened to his remarks, I was fully in agreement with him, and today I am even more so.……..
Roughly 17.5 million tons of military equipment, vehicles, industrial supplies, and food were shipped from the Western Hemisphere to the USSR, 94% coming from the US. For comparison, a total of 22 million tons landed in Europe to supply American forces from January 1942 to May 1945. It has been estimated that American deliveries to the USSR through the Persian Corridor alone were sufficient, by US Army standards, to maintain sixty combat divisions in the line.
The United States gave to the Soviet Union from October 1, 1941 to May 31, 1945 the following: 427,284 trucks, 13,303 combat vehicles, 35,170 motorcycles, 2,328 ordnance service vehicles, 2,670,371 tons of petroleum products (gasoline and oil) or 57.8 percent of the High-octane aviation fuel, 4,478,116 tons of foodstuffs (canned meats, sugar, flour, salt, etc.), 1,911 steam locomotives, 66 Diesel locomotives, 9,920 flat cars, 1,000 dump cars, 120 tank cars, and 35 heavy machinery cars. Provided ordnance goods (ammunition, artillery shells, mines, assorted explosives) amounted to 53 percent of total domestic production. One item typical of many was a tire plant that was lifted bodily from the Ford Company’s River Rouge Plant and transferred to the USSR. The 1947 money value of the supplies and services amounted to about eleven billion dollars.
From what I remember reading in the “Hitler vs Stalin” book, in late 1942 and early 1943 Guderian noted that most of the tanks and aircraft he was facing were American origin. He railed at Hitler for removing several combat divisions and Luftwaffe units to send to North Africa when he damn near had the Soviet Army on the ropes in the Caucasus. He felt those removals cost him the campaign to shatter the Soviet Army and deny it the fuel from Baku. Your precious USSR was ONLY able to push the Germans back due to the USA. Without the pressure exerted by the North Africa campaign and the bombing campaign forced Germany to split their attention and fight a 2 front war, while we fought a WORLDWIDE 2 front war with land, air and naval forces while supplying a very large percentage of the food and equipment for ALL of our allies and running the Atomic Bomb project, and like Trent has mentioned before, were had just finished warming up our productive capacity in late 1944 when war orders had to be cut back.
I’ll grant you are right in how skilled the Red Army was in restoring destroyed rail lines.
When the Red Army railway troops could plan a big push behind an offensive, plan for weeks and stockpile equipment. They could restore 20km of destroyed track and bridges
The issue is the Red Army never faced the sort of enemy air superiority that chopped the railways into water obstacle compartments that all the railway restoration troops were unable to have the troops, transport and stockpiled goods could not meet, and get bombed out trying to do so.
And by that I mean see the “Vertical photographic-reconnaissance aerial taken over the railway yards at Saintes, France, following an attack by aircraft of Bomber Command on the night of 23/24 June 1944.” found at the link here.
The Red Air Force was handed air superiority on a silver platter after Kursk when Hitler sent the Luftwaffe’s Eastern Fighter force west, never to return.
And in 1943 for every German fighter lost in the East, the Anglo-Americans killed two in the Mediterranean and the Combined bomber offensive.
You can’t say that the Red Air Force, that never won air superiority, knew how to fight to gain it against Anglo-American opponents who had already defeated two major powers in the air.
That should of read —
“They could restore 20km of destroyed track and bridges…for several days running.”
It’s not a new discussion Trent. This has been hashed out in many forums and really it was not a sure thing either way.
This is why Truman nuked Japan.
I used to have military history as a main interest and I fought many war games over my particular specialty, the Russian German war in the east. The crap you have picked up from google is nothing new to me. I liked to play the Russians, and you had to play them very differently, than you would play the Germans. to win.
Post war Russian power politics didn’t even show on the American military’s “institutional radar” regards the decision to use the A-bomb.
See link for the full article.
Various Marshall clips —
Marshall’s main task in 1945 was to prepare for a possible invasion of mainland Japan, scheduled to begin that year on Nov. 1st. He felt the decision to use the atomic bomb – to introduce a new and more dangerous level of warfare to the world – was a political rather than military decision. Assistant Sec. of War John McCloy recalled:
“[Marshall’s] insistence to me that whether we should drop an atomic bomb on Japan was a matter for the President to decide, not the Chief of Staff since it was not a military question… the question of whether we should drop this new bomb on Japan, in his judgment, involved such imponderable considerations as to remove it from the field of a military decision.” (Quoted in Gar Alperovitz, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb, pg. 364).
McCloy said Marshall told him, “Don’t ask me to make the decision.” (Forrest C. Pogue, George C. Marshall: Statesman 1945-1959, pg. 550, note 30).
But Marshall had been thinking about the atomic bomb. He didn’t press his ideas, probably because he felt this was more of a political matter than a military matter. Here are some of Marshall’s ideas, documented at the time:
The minutes from a May 29, 1945 meeting of Marshall with Sec. of War Stimson and Assistant Sec. of War McCloy note that “General Marshall said he thought these weapons [atomic bombs] might first be used against straight military objectives such as a large naval installation and then if no complete result was derived from the effect of that, he thought we ought to designate a number of large manufacturing areas from which the people would be warned to leave – telling the Japanese that we intended to destroy such centers. There would be no individual designations so that the Japs [sic] would not know exactly where we were to hit – a number should be named and the hit should follow shortly after. Every effort should be made to keep our record of warning clear. We must offset by such warning methods the opprobrium which might follow from an ill considered employment of such force.” (RG 107, Formerly Top Secret Correspondence of Sec. of War Stimson (“Safe File”) 7/40 – 9/45, S-1 folder, Memorandum of Conversation With General Marshall, May 29, 1945 – 11:45 a.m., National Archives).
At a May 31, 1945 Interim Committee discussion of the atomic bomb, scientist and Manhattan Project administrator Arthur Compton was present. He recalled, “General Marshall stated that from the point of view of the postwar safety of the nation he would have to argue against the use of the bomb in World War II, at least if its existence could be kept secret. Such use, he said, would show our hand. We would be in a stronger position with regard to future military action if we did not show the power we held.” (Arthur Holly Compton, Atomic Quest, pg. 237). Scientists at the meeting then explained that the scientific knowledge was already too widely known to keep the a-bomb a secret. (Microfilm 1108, RG 77, Harrison-Bundy Files, file 100, Notes of the Interim Committee Meeting, Thursday, 31 May 1945, National Archives).
But Marshall probably did not think the atomic bombs would end the war. After a talk with Marshall about the atomic bomb on June 12, 1947, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman David Lilienthal quoted Marshall in his diary as saying:
“There is one point that was missed, and that, frankly, we missed in making our plans. That was the effect the bomb would have in so shocking the Japanese that they could surrender without losing face. …we didn’t realize its value to give the Japanese such a shock that they could surrender without complete loss of face.” (David E. Lilienthal, The Journals of David E. Lilienthal, Volume Two: The Atomic Energy Years, 1945-1950, pg. 198).
And Finally —
On Aug. 13, after two a-bombings had failed to bring surrender from Japan, one of Marshall’s assistants, Lt. Gen. John Hull, telephoned one of Gen. Groves’ assistants, Col. L.E. Seeman. Hull said Marshall felt we should consider holding off on further atomic bombings so as to save the a-bombs for tactical use as part of the November invasion. (Marc Gallicchio, After Nagasaki: General Marshall’s Plan for Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Japan, Prologue, Winter 1991).
In 1957, Marshall gave some details of his invasion plans for the atomic bomb:
“There were three corps to come in there [to invade Japan], as I recall. …there were to be three bombs for each corps that was landing. One or two, but probably one, as a preliminary, then this landing, then another one further inland against the immediate supports, and then the third against any troops that might try to come through the mountains from up on the Inland Sea. That was the rough idea in our minds.” (Bland, George C. Marshall: Interviews and Reminiscences for Forrest C. Pogue, pg. 424).
It was characteristic of Marshall that while others were celebrating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Gen. Groves recalled that “General Marshall expressed his feeling that we should guard against too much gratification over our success, because it undoubtedly involved a large number of Japanese casualties.” (Leslie Groves, Now It Can Be Told, pg. 324).
Ryan also found a 10 Aug 1945 document bu Curtis LeMay ordering an A-bomb hardstand built on Okinawa to be completed no later than 15 Sept 1945, presumably to support Marshall’s idea above.
Shjort form — When it comes to using the A-bomb on Japan, th American decision makers were just not that into Russians. It was all Japan all the time.
No matter how you try to “game” it, the fact that cannot be denied is that Germany vs. USSR with no help from the US is a loser for the Russians. It is a matter of war production capacity and Germany simply had much, much more than the Russians. And the Germans did not go into total war production until 1943. The USSR had also lost most of their thermal power plants in the conquered areas and the US sent whole power plants, along with distribution/transmission equipment to them to make up the shortfall.
It is the same fact that sealed the doom of the war aims of Germany once the USA was fully in the war against them. US industrial capacity was almost more than everyone else in the world combined. Those games you play simply ignore this fact in order to make the games more interesting. That you equate this to real life just shows your stupidity much more clearly.
[I’ve moved Leather Helmet’s comment to the appropriate post. That post had been closed to new comments because I’d configured WordPress to close all posts to new comments after 30 days as an anti-spam measure. I’ve removed that setting for the time being. Let’s see if we can get away with it. Jonathan]
Comments are closed.