When we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki how many atomic bombs did we have at the end of WW2? I was watching a show a little while ago on the USS Indianapolis and got curious. I guess I was thinking what would have happened if Japan hadnt surrendered?
lots and lots of conventional bombs, followed by an invasion
We only had the 2 that we used but knowbody else knew.
Helluva gamble and a supreme act of mercy to Japan and the US to drop those things and bluff Japan into surrender.
I think we only had two and if Japan hadn't surrendered we would have had to make more bombs. Truman would have nuked them until they caved.
And probably over a million deaths.
Considering the civilian body itself was willing to go hand to hand if needed.
We used the two we had and probably would have held off on a land invasion till we had more.
A couple of years ago I copied and pasted the following from at post over at Socnetcentral. I am simply posting it here because I thought it was interesting and thus cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information it contains because, for one reason and another, I've never gotten around to looking into it.
That said, here ya go:
On Sat, 16 Sep 2006 20:12:07 -0700, "Brig Gen R. Clements USAF ret" <email@example.com> wrote:
Deep in the recesses of the National Archives in Washington, D.C., hidden for nearly four decades lie thousands of pages of yellowing and dusty documents stamped "Top Secret". These documents, now declassified, are the plans for Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan during World War II.
Only a few Americans in 1945 were aware of the elaborate plans that had been prepared for the Allied Invasion of the Japanese home islands. Even fewer today are aware of the defenses the Japanese had prepared to counter the invasion had it been launched. Operation Downfall was finalized during the spring and summer of 1945. It called for two massive military undertakings to be carried out in succession and aimed at the heart of the Japanese Empire.
In the first invasion - code named "Operation Olympic"- American combat troops would land on Japan by amphibious assault during the early morning hours of November 1, 1945 - 61 years ago. Fourteen combat divisions of soldiers and Marines would land on heavily fortified and defended Kyushu, the southernmost of the Japanese home islands, after an unprecedented naval and aerial bombardment.
The second invasion on March 1, 1946 - code named "Operation Coronet"- would send at least 22 divisions against 1 million Japanese defenders on the main island of Honshu and the Tokyo Plain. It's goal: the unconditional surrender of Japan.
With the exception of a part of the British Pacific Fleet, Operation Downfall was to be a strictly American operation. It called for using the entire Marine Corps, the entire Pacific Navy, elements of the 7th Army Air Force, the 8 Air Force (recently redeployed from Europe), 10th Air Force and the American Far Eastern Air Force. More than 1.5 million combat soldiers, with 3 million more in support or more than 40% of all servicemen still in uniform in 1945 - would be directly involved in the two amphibious assaults. Casualties were expected to be extremely heavy.
Admiral William Leahy estimated that there would be more than 250,000 Americans killed or wounded on Kyushu alone. General Charles Willoughby, chief of intelligence for General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific, estimated American casualties would be one million men by the fall of 1946. Willoughby's own intelligence staff considered this to be a conservative estimate.
During the summer of 1945, America had little time to prepare for such an endeavor, but top military leaders were in almost unanimous agreement that an invasion was necessary.
While naval blockade and strategic bombing of Japan was considered to be useful, General MacArthur, for instance, did not believe a blockade would bring about an unconditional surrender. The advocates for invasion agreed that while a naval blockade chokes, it does not kill; and though strategic bombing might destroy cities, it leaves whole armies intact.
So on May 25, 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after extensive deliberation, issued to General MacArthur, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Army Air Force General Henry Arnold, the top secret directive to proceed with the invasion of Kyushu. The target date was after the typhoon season.
President Truman approved the plans for the invasions July 24. Two days later, the United Nations issued the Potsdam Proclamation, which called upon Japan to surrender unconditionally or face total destruction. Three days later, the Japanese governmental news agency broadcast to the world that Japan would ignore the proclamation and would refuse to surrender. During
this same period it was learned -- via monitoring Japanese radio broadcasts -- that Japan had closed all schools and mobilized its school children, was arming its civilian population and was fortifying caves and building underground defenses.
Operation Olympic called for a four pronged assault on Kyushu. Its purpose was to seize and control the southern one-third of that island and establish naval and air bases, to tighten the naval blockade of the home islands, to destroy units of the main Japanese army and to support the later invasion of the Tokyo Plain.
The preliminary invasion would begin October 27 when the 40th Infantry Division would land on a series of small islands west and southwest of Kyushu. At the same time, the 158th Regimental Combat Team would invade and occupy a small island 28 miles south of Kyushu. On these islands, seaplane bases would be established and radar would be set up to provide advance air warning for the invasion fleet, to serve as fighter direction centers for the carrier-based aircraft and to provide an emergency anchorage for the invasion fleet, should things not go well on the day of the invasion. As the invasion grew imminent, the massive firepower of the Navy - the Third and Fifth Fleets -- would approach Japan. The Third Fleet, under Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, with its big guns and naval aircraft, would provide strategic support for the operation against Honshu and Hokkaido. Halsey's fleet would be composed of battleships, heavy cruisers, destroyers, dozens of support ships and three fast carrier task groups. From these carriers, hundreds of Navy fighters, dive bombers and torpedo planes would hit targets all over the island of Honshu. The 3,000 ship Fifth Fleet, under Admiral Raymond Spruance, would carry the invasion troops.
Several days before the invasion, the battleships, heavy cruisers and destroyers would pour thousands of tons of high explosives into the target areas. They would not cease the bombardment until after the land forces had been launched. During the early morning hours of November 1, the invasion would begin. Thousands of soldiers and Marines would pour ashore on beaches all along the eastern, southeastern, southern and western coasts of Kyushu. Waves of
Helldivers, Dauntless dive bombers, Avengers, Corsairs, and Hellcats from 66 aircraft carriers would bomb, rocket and strafe enemy defenses, gun emplacements and troop concentrations along the beaches.
The Eastern Assault Force consisting of the 25th, 33rd, and 41st Infantry Divisions, would land near Miyaski, at beaches called Austin, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Ford, and move inland to attempt to capture the city and its nearby airfield. The Southern Assault Force, consisting of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 43rd Division and Americal Division would land inside Ariake Bay at beaches labeled DeSoto, Dusenberg, Essex, Ford, and Franklin and attempt to capture Shibushi and the city of Kanoya and its airfield.
On the western shore of Kyushu, at beaches Pontiac, Reo, Rolls Royce, Saxon, Star, Studebaker, Stutz, Winston and Zephyr, the V Amphibious Corps would land the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Marine Divisions, sending half of its force inland to Sendai and the other half to the port city of Kagoshima.
On November 4, the Reserve Force, consisting of the 81st and 98th Infantry Divisions and the 11th Airborne Division, after feigning an attack on the island of Shikoku, would be landed -- if not needed elsewhere – near Kaimondake, near the southernmost tip of Kagoshima Bay, at the beaches designated Locomobile, Lincoln, LaSalle, Hupmobile, Moon, Mercedes, Maxwell, Overland, Oldsmobile, Packard, and Plymouth.
Olympic was not just a plan for invasion, but for conquest and occupation as well. It was expected to take four months to achieve its objective, with the three fresh American divisions per month to be landed in support of that operation if needed. If all went well with Olympic, Coronet would be launched March 1, 1946. Coronet would be twice the size of Olympic, with as many as 28 divisions landing on Honshu.
All along the coast east of Tokyo, the American 1st Army would land the 5th, 7th, 27th, 44th, 86th, and 96th Infantry Divisions, along with the 4th and 6th Marine Divisions.
At Sagami Bay, just south of Tokyo, the entire 8th and 10th Armies would strike north and east to clear the long western shore of Tokyo Bay and attempt to go as far as Yokohama. The assault troops landing south of Tokyo would be the 4th, 6th, 8th, 24th, 31st, 37th, 38th, and 8th Infantry
Divisions, along with the 13th and 20th Armored Divisions.
Following the initial assault, eight more divisions - the 2nd, 28th, 35th, 91st, 95th, 97th, and 104th Infantry Divisions and the 11th Airborne Division -- would be landed. If additional troops were needed, as expected, other divisions redeployed from Europe and undergoing training in the
United States would be shipped to Japan in what was hoped to be the final push.
Captured Japanese documents and post war interrogations of Japanese military leaders disclose that information concerning the number of Japanese planes available for the defense of the home islands was dangerously in error.
During the sea battle at Okinawa alone, Japanese Kamikaze aircraft sank 32 Allied ships and damaged more than 400 others. But during the summer of 1945, American top brass concluded that the Japanese had spent their air force since American bombers and fighters daily flew unmolested over Japan.
What the military leaders did not know was that by the end of July the Japanese had been saving all aircraft, fuel, and pilots in reserve, and had been feverishly building new planes for the decisive battle for their homeland.
As part of Ketsu -Go, the name for the plan to defend Japan -- the Japanese were building 20 suicide takeoff strips in southern Kyushu with underground hangars. They also had 35 camouflaged airfields and nine seaplane bases.
On the night before the expected invasion, 50 Japanese seaplane bombers, 100 former carrier aircraft and 50 land based army planes were to be launched in a suicide attack on the fleet.
The Japanese had 58 more airfields in Korea, western Honshu and Shikoku, which also were to be used for massive suicide attacks.
Allied intelligence had established that the Japanese had no more than 2,500 aircraft of which they guessed 300 would be deployed in suicide attacks. In August 1945, however, unknown to Allied intelligence, the Japanese still had 5,651 army and 7,074 navy aircraft, for a total of 12,725 planes of all types. Every village had some type of aircraft manufacturing activity. Hidden in mines, railway tunnels, under viaducts and in basements of department stores, work was being done to construct new planes.
Additionally, the Japanese were building newer and more effective models of the Okka, a rocket-propelled bomb much like the German V-1, but flown by a suicide pilot.
When the invasion became imminent, Ketsu-Go called for a fourfold aerial plan of attack to destroy up to 800 Allied ships.
While Allied ships were approaching Japan, but still in the open seas, an initial force of 2,000 army and navy fighters were to fight to the death to control the skies over Kyushu. A second force of 330 navy combat pilots was to attack the main body of the task force to keep it from using its fire support and air cover to protect the troop carrying transports. While these two forces were engaged, a third force of 825 suicide planes was to hit the American transports.
As the invasion convoys approached their anchorages, another 2,000 suicide planes were to be launched in waves of 200 to 300, to be used in hour by hour attacks.
By mid-morning of the first day of the invasion, most of the American land-based aircraft would be forced to return to their bases, leaving the defense against the suicide planes to the carrier pilots and the shipboard gunners.
Carrier pilots crippled by fatigue would have to land time and time again to rearm and refuel. Guns would malfunction from the heat of continuous firing and ammunition would become scarce. Gun crews would be exhausted by nightfall, but still the waves of kamikaze would continue. With the fleet hovering off the beaches, all remaining Japanese aircraft would be committed to nonstop suicide attacks, which the Japanese hoped could be sustained for 10 days. The Japanese planned to coordinate their air strikes with attacks from the 40 remaining submarines from the Imperial Navy – some armed with Long Lance torpedoes with a range of 20 miles -- when the invasion fleet was 180 miles off Kyushu.
The Imperial Navy had 23 destroyers and two cruisers which were operational. These ships were to be used to counterattack the American invasion. A number of the destroyers were to be beached at the last minute to be used as anti-invasion gun platforms.
Once offshore, the invasion fleet would be forced to defend not only against the attacks from the air, but would also be confronted with suicide attacks from sea. Japan had established a suicide naval attack unit of midget submarines, human torpedoes and exploding motorboats.
The goal of the Japanese was to shatter the invasion before the landing. The Japanese were convinced the Americans would back off or become so demoralized that they would then accept a less-than-unconditional surrender and a more honorable and face-saving end for the Japanese.
But as horrible as the battle of Japan would be off the beaches, it would be on Japanese soil that the American forces would face the most rugged and fanatical defense encountered during the war.
Throughout the island-hopping Pacific campaign, Allied troops had always out numbered the Japanese by 2 to 1 and sometimes 3 to 1. In Japan it would be different. By virtue of a combination of cunning, guesswork, and brilliant military reasoning, a number of Japan's top military leaders were able to deduce, not only when, but where, the United States would land its first invasion forces.
Facing the 14 American divisions landing at Kyushu would be 14 Japanese divisions, 7 independent mixed brigades, 3 tank brigades and thousands of naval troops. On Kyushu the odds would be 3 to 2 in favor of the Japanese, with 790,000 enemy defenders against 550,000 Americans. This time the bulk of the Japanese defenders would not be the poorly trained and ill-equipped labor battalions that the Americans had faced in the earlier campaigns.
The Japanese defenders would be the hard core of the home army. These troops were well-fed and well equipped. They were familiar with the terrain, had stockpiles of arms and ammunition, and had developed an effective system of transportation and supply almost invisible from the air. Many of these Japanese troops were the elite of the army, and they were swollen with a fanatical
Japan's network of beach defenses consisted of offshore mines, thousands of suicide scuba divers attacking landing craft, and mines planted on the beaches. Coming ashore, the American Eastern amphibious assault forces at Miyazaki would face three Japanese divisions, and two others poised for counterattack. Awaiting the Southeastern attack force at Ariake Bay was an
entire division and at least one mixed infantry brigade.
On the western shores of Kyushu, the Marines would face the most brutal opposition. Along the invasion be aches would be the three Japanese divisions, a tank brigade, a mixed infantry brigade and an artillery command. Components of two divisions would also be poised to launch counterattacks.
If not needed to reinforce the primary landing beaches, the American Reserve Force would be landed at the base of Kagoshima Bay November 4, where they would be confronted by two mixed infantry brigades, parts of two infantry divisions and thousands of naval troops.
All along the invasion beaches, American troops would face coastal batteries, anti-landing obstacles and a network of heavily fortified pillboxes, bunkers, and underground fortresses. As Americans waded ashore, they would face intense artillery and mortar fire as they worked their way through concrete rubble and barbed-wire entanglements arranged to funnel them into the
muzzles of these Japanese guns.
On the beaches and beyond would be hundreds of Japanese machine gun positions, beach mines, booby traps, trip-wire mines and sniper units. Suicide units concealed in "spider holes" would engage the troops as they passed nearby. In the heat of battle, Japanese infiltration units would be sent to reap havoc in the American lines by cutting phone and communication lines. Some of the Japanese troops would be in American uniform; English-speaking Japanese officers were assigned to break in on American radio traffic to call off artillery fire, to order retreats and to further confuse troops. Other infiltration with demolition charges strapped on their chests or backs would attempt to blow up American tanks, artillery pieces and ammunition stores as they were unloaded ashore.
Beyond the beaches were large artillery pieces situated to bring down a curtain of fire on the beach. Some of these large guns were mounted on railroad tracks running in and out of caves protected by concrete and steel.
The battle for Japan would be won by what Simon Bolivar Buckner, a lieutenant general in the Confederate army during the Civil War, had called "Prairie Dog Warfare." This type of fighting was almost unknown to the ground troops in Europe and the Mediterranean. It was peculiar only to the soldiers and Marines who fought the Japanese on islands all over the Pacific -- at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Prairie Dog Warfare was a battle for yards, feet and sometimes inches. It was brutal, deadly and dangerous form of combat aimed at an underground, heavily fortified, non-retreating enemy.
In the mountains behind the Japanese beaches were underground networks of caves, bunkers, command posts and hospitals connected by miles of tunnels with dozens of entrances and exits. Some of these complexes could hold up to 1,000 troops.
In addition to the use of poison gas and bacteriological warfare (which the Japanese had experimented with), Japan mobilized its citizenry.
Had Olympic come about, the Japanese civilian population, inflamed by a national slogan - "One Hundred Million Will Die for the Emperor and Nation" - were prepared to fight to the death. Twenty Eight Million Japanese had become a part of the National Volunteer Combat Force. They were armed with ancient rifles, lunge mines, satchel charges, Molotov cocktails and one-shot black powder mortars. Others were armed with swords, long bows, axes and bamboo spears. The civilian units were to be used in nighttime attacks, hit and run maneuvers, delaying actions and massive suicide charges at the weaker American positions.
At the early stage of the invasion, 1,000 Japanese and American soldiers would be dying every hour.
The invasion of Japan never became a reality because on August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Within days the war with Japan was at a close.
Had these bombs not been dropped and had the invasion been launched as scheduled, combat casualties in Japan would have been at a minimum of the tens of thousands. Every foot of Japanese soil would have been paid for by Japanese and American lives.
One can only guess at how many civilians would have committed suicide in their homes or in futile mass military attacks. In retrospect, the 1 million American men who were to be the casualties of the invasion were instead lucky enough to survive the war.
Intelligence studies and military estimates made 50 years ago, and not latter-day speculation, clearly indicate that the battle for Japan might well have resulted in the biggest blood-bath in the history of modern warfare.
Far worse would be what might have happened to Japan as a nation and as a culture. When the invasion came, it would have come after several months of fire bombing all of the remaining Japanese cities. The cost in human life that resulted from the two atomic blasts would be small in comparison to the total number of Japanese lives that would have been lost by this aerial
With American forces locked in combat in the south of Japan, little could have prevented the Soviet Union from marching into the northern half of the Japanese home islands. Japan today cold be divided much like Korea and Germany.
The world was spared the cost of Operation Downfall, however, because Japan formally surrendered to the United Nations September 2, 1945, and World War II was over.
The aircraft carriers, cruisers and transport ships scheduled to carry the invasion troops to Japan, ferried home American troops in a gigantic operation called Magic Carpet.
In the fall of 1945, in the aftermath of the war, few people concerned themselves with the invasion plans. Following the surrender, the classified documents, maps, diagrams and appendices for Operation Downfall were packed away in boxes and eventually stored at the National Archives. These plans that called for the invasion of Japan paint a vivid description of what might have been one of the most horrible campaigns in the history of man. The fact that the story of the invasion of Japan is locked up in the National Archives and is not told in our history books is something for which all Americans can be thankful.
I had the distinct privilege of being assigned as later commander of the 8090th PACUSA detach, 20th AAF, and one of the personal pilots of then Brig General Fred Irving USMA 17 when he was commanding general of Western Pacific Base Command. We had a brand new C-46F tail number 8546. It was different from the rest of the C-46 line in that it was equipped with Hamilton Hydromatic props whereas the others had Curtis electrics. On one of the many flights we had 14 Generals and Admiral s aboard on an inspection trip to Saipan and Tinian. Notable aboard was General Thomas C. Handy, who had signed the operational order to drop the atomic bombs on Japan. President Truman's orders were verbal. He never signed an order to drop the bombs
On this particular flight, about half way from Guam to Tinian, a full Colonel (General Handy's aide) came up forward and told me that General Handy would like to come up and look around. I told him, "Hell yes, he can fly the airplane if he wants to, sir".
He came up and sat in the copilot’s seat, put on the headset and we started chatting. I asked him if he ever regretted dropping the bombs. His answer was, "Certainly not. We saved a million lives on both sides by doing it. It was the right thing to do".
I never forgot that trip and the honor of being able to talk to General Handy. I was a Lt at the time. A postscript about General Irving; He was one of the finest gentleman I ever met. He was the oldest living graduate of West Point when he passed on at 100+.
He was one of three Generals who had the honor of being both the "Supe" and "Com" of West Point. I think the other gentleman were BG Sladen, class of 1890 and BG Stewart, Class of 1896.
I am very happy the invasion never came off because if it had I don't think I would be writing this today. We were to provide air support for the boots on the ground guys. The small arms fire would have been devastating and lethal as hell to fly through... Just think what it would have been like on the ground.....
But, C'est la vive. You do what needs to be done. You don't act like gutless wonders and carry peace signs around....
FURTHER INFORMATION FROM
From Beyond Bushido: Recent Work in Japanese Military History a symposium sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Office of International Programs, and the Departments of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Kansas. Monday, February 16, 1998.
B. TSUTSUI: Our next speaker, D. M. Giangreco, is an editor for the US Army's professional journal, Military Review, published by the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Giangreco has lectured widely on national security matters. An award-winning author of five books on military and political subjects, he has also written
extensively for various national and international publications on such topics as the Falkland Islands' sovereignty question, decentralization of the Soviet Air Force command and control structure, Persian Gulf pipeline construction to circumvent the Strait of Hormuz bottleneck, and the human interface with rapidly changing technologies. Several of his works have
been translated into French, German and Spanish. Giangreco's most recent books have also been published in Japanese, and the next one, Dear Harry on the correspondence of "everyday Americans" with the Truman White House will be released in fall 1998 [NOTE: see Amazon.com for more on DEAR HARRY]. Giangreco is also being awarded the Society for Military History's 1998 Moncado Prize for his article "Casualty Projections for the US Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy Implications" published in the July 1997 Journal of Military History by the George C. Marshall Center and VMI.
GIANGRECO: Thank you. It's great to be here today.
The sudden and unanticipated conclusion of the Pacific War with the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was greeted with joy by all Americans, and especially by the more than three and a half million soldiers, sailors and Marines slated to invade Japan. These forces were not only to come from the Pacific; First Army, which had pummeled its way from Normandy to the heart of Germany, and Eighth Air Force, based in England, were on the way as well. But morale was not good among veterans of the Ardennes, Guadalcanal, and other campaigns. As James Jones later wrote: "What it must have been like to some old-timer buck sergeant . . . [knowing] that he very likely had survived this far only to fall dead in the dirt of
Japan's Home Islands, hardly bears thinking about."
MacArthur's staff had twice come up with figures exceeding 100,000 casualties for the opening months of combat on the southern island of Kyushu, a figure which some historians largely succeeded in contrasting favorably- and quite mistakenly- with President Harry Truman's much-derided post-war statement that Marshall had advised him at Potsdam that casualties
from both the Kyushu and Honshu invasion operations could range from 250,000 to one million men.
Truman and Marshall were intimately familiar with losses in the Pacific during the previous year: over 200,000 casualties from wounds, fatigue and disease, plus 10,000 American dead and missing in the Marianas, 5,500 dead on and around Leyte, 9,000 dead during the Luzon campaign, 6,800 at Iwo Jima, 12,600 at Okinawa, and 2,000 killed in the unexpectedly vicious fighting on Peleliu. Both also knew that, save for some operations around New Guinea, real casualties were routinely outpacing estimates and the gap was widening. They also knew that while America always emerged victorious, operations often were not being completed as rapidly as planned- with all the added cost in blood and treasure that such lengthy campaigns entailed.
Leyte is a perfect example. Leyte was to the Luzon campaign what the Kyushu invasion was to the capture of Honshu's Kanto Plain and Tokyo, a preliminary operation to create a huge staging area. Today, we can recall MacArthur wading ashore triumphantly in the Philippines. But what Truman and Marshall knew only too well was that MacArthur was supposed to have retaken Leyte with four divisions and have eight fighter and bomber groups striking from the island within 45 days of the initial landings. However, nine divisions and twice as many days into the battle, only a fraction of that airpower was operational because of unexpected terrain conditions (and this on an island which the United States had occupied for over forty years). The fighting on the ground not gone as planned. The Japanese even briefly isolated Fifth Air Force headquarters and also captured much of the Burauen airfield complex before reinforcements pushed them back into the jungle.
Now, some historians have stated incredulously that Marshall's estimate of up to one million casualties for the invasion of Japan significantly exceeded those sustained in Europe. But while the naval side of the Pacific War displayed the broad, sweeping moves so loved by historians, land combat in the Pacific had little in common with the maneuver warfare that went a long way toward keeping casualties comparatively low in France and the central German Plain. The closest European commanders came after D-Day to the corps-level combat which was the stock and trade of Army and Marine divisions in the Pacific was the prolonged fighting in the Huertgen Forest and Normandy's hedgerows- close-in, infantry-intensive slugfests that produced many bodies on both sides. It is also important to note that when they went to Potsdam, Truman and Marshall knew that total US casualties had recently exceeded the one and a quarter million mark- a number these historians find unfathomable- what's more the bulk of the losses occurred in just the previous year of fighting against Germany.
There were plenty of estimates which confidently asserted that strategic bombing, blockade, or both- even the invasion of Kyushu alone- would bring Japan to its senses, but no one was able to provide General Marshall with a convincing explanation of just how long that would take. The millions of Americans poised to take part in the largest invasion in history, as well as those supporting them, could only stay poised for so long. Leaders in both Washington and Tokyo knew this just as well as their theater commanders in the Pacific. After learning of the bomb, MacArthur ignored it save for considering how to integrate the new weapon into plans for tactical operations at Kyushu and Honshu if Tokyo was not forced to the surrender table. Nimitz was of a similar mind. On being told that the bomb would become available in August, he reputedly remarked, "In the meantime I have a war to fight."
On 29 July 1945, there came a stunning change to an earlier report on enemy strength on Kyushu. This update set alarm bells ringing in MacArthur's headquarters as well as Washington because it stated bluntly that the Japanese were rapidly reinforcing southern Kyushu and had increased troop strength from 80,000 to 206,000 men, quote: "with no end in sight." Finally, it warned that Japanese efforts were, quote: "changing the tactical and strategic situation sharply." While the breathless "no end in sight" claim turned out to be somewhat overstated, the confirmed figures were ominous enough for Marshall to ponder scraping the Kyushu operation altogether even though MacArthur maintained that it was still the best option available.
Now, this is particularly interesting because, in recent years, some historians have promoted the idea that Marshall's staff believed an invasion of Japan would have been essentially a walk-over. To bolster their argument, they point to highly qualified- and limited- casualty projections in a variety of documents produced in May and June 1945, roughly half a year
before the first invasion operation, Olympic, was to commence. Unfortunately, the numbers in these documents- usually 30-day estimates- have been grossly misrepresented by individuals with little understanding of how the estimates were made, exactly what they represent, and how the various documents are connected. In effect, it is as if someone during World War II came across casualty estimates for the invasion of Sicily, and then declared that the numbers would represent casualties from the entire Italian campaign. Then, having gone this far, announced with complete confidence that the numbers actually represented likely casualties for the balance of the war with Germany. Of course, back then, such a notion would be dismissed as being laughably absurd, and the flow of battle would speedily move beyond the single event the original estimates- be they good or bad- were for. That, however, was fifty-plus years ago. Today, historians doing much the same thing, win the plaudits of
their peers, receive copious grants, and affect the decisions of major institutions. [Laughter.]
The limited and cautiously optimistic estimates of May and June 1945 were turned to junk by that intelligence estimate at July's end, and the situation was even more dangerous than was perceived at that time. War plans called for the initial landings on the Home Islands to be conducted approximately 90 days hence. But, as we shall see, the invasion of Kyushu would actually have not been able to take place for anywhere from 120 to 135 days- a disastrous occurrence for the successful outcome of stated US war aims.
Some today assert, in effect, that it would have been more humane to have just continued the conventional B-29 bombing of Japan, which in six months had killed nearly 300,000 people and displaced or rendered homeless over 8 million more. They also assert that the growing US blockade would have soon forced a surrender because the Japanese faced, quote: "imminent starvation." US Planners at the time, however, weren't nearly so bold, and the whole reason why advocates of tightening the noose around the Home Islands came up with so many different estimates of when blockade and bombardment might force Japan to surrender was because the situation wasn't nearly as cut and dried as it appears today, even when that nation's supply lines were severed. Japan would indeed have become, quote: "a nation without cities," as urban populations suffered grievously under the weight of Allied bombing; but over half the population during the war lived and worked on farms. Back then the system of price supports that has encouraged Japanese farmers today to convert practically every square foot of their land to rice cultivation did not exist. Large vegetable gardens were a standard feature of a family's land and wheat was also widely grown.
The idea that the Japanese were about to run out of food any time soon was largely derived from repeated misreadings of the Summary Report of the 104-volume US Strategic Bombing Survey of Japan. Using Survey findings, Craven and Cate, in the multi-volume US Army Air Force history of WWII detailed the successful US mine-laying efforts against Japanese shipping which essentially cut Japanese oil and food imports, and state only that by mid-August, quote: "the calorie count of the average man's fare had shrunk dangerously." Obviously, some historians enthusiasm for the point they are trying to make has gotten the better of them since the reduced nutritional value of meals is somewhat different than "imminent starvation."
As for the Imperial Army itself, it was in somewhat better shape than is commonly understood today. Moreover, the Japanese had figured us out. They had correctly deduced the landing beaches and even the approximate times of both invasion operations, and were thus presented with huge tactical and even strategic possibilities. And although the Japanese had never perfected central control and massed fire of their artillery, this fact was largely irrelevant under such circumstances. The months that the Japanese Sixteenth Army had to wait for the first US invasion, at Kyushu, were not going to be spent with its soldiers and the island's massive civilian population sitting on their duffs. The ability to dig in and preregister, dig in and preregister, dig in and preregister, cannot be so casually dismissed. To borrow a phrase from a recent Asian war, the Kyushu invasion areas were going to be a, quote: "target-rich environment" where artillery was going to methodically do its work on a large number of soldiers and Marines whose luck had run out. On Okinawa, the US Tenth Army commander, General Buckner, was killed by artillery fire when the campaign was ostensibly in the mopping-up phase, and from World War I to the recent fighting in Grosny, where shells killed a Russian two-star general, there is ample evidence of artillery living up to its deadly reputation.
It has also been stated that US ground troops didn't really need to worry about Japanese cave defenses since combat experience in the Pacific, and tests run in the US, proved the effectiveness of self-propelled 8-inch and 155mm howitzer against caves and bunkers as well as their vulnerability to direct fire from tanks. That the Japanese were also well aware of this and were arranging defensive positions accordingly from lessons learned on Okinawa and the Philippines is not mentioned. In any event, the Japanese had already demonstrated that they could, with the right terrain, construct strongpoints, like Item Pocket on Okinawa, which could not be bypassed and had to be reduced without benefit of any direct-fire weapons since no tanks- let alone lumbering self-propelled guns- could work their way in for an appropriate shot.
Similarly, on the Japanese ability to defend against US tanks, Army and Marine armor veterans of the Pacific war would be amazed to learn that they had little to fear during the invasion. After all, Japan's obsolescent 47mm anti-tank guns, quote: "could penetrate the M-4 Sherman's armor only in vulnerable spots at very close range" and that their older 37mm gun was completely ineffective against the Sherman tank. In fact, the Japanese, through hard experience, were becoming quite adept at tank killing. During two actions in particular on Okinawa, they managed to knock out 22 and 30 Shermans respectively. In one of these fights, Fujio Takeda managed to stop four tanks with six 400-yard shots from his supposedly worthless 47mm. As for the 37mm, it was not intended to actually destroy tanks during the invasions but to immobilize them at very short ranges so that they would become easier prey for the infantry tank-killing teams that had proven so effective on Okinawa.
Some historians are also somewhat more confident than on-scene commanders as to our ability to pulverize Japanese defenses. This may be due, in part, to an overly literal interpretation of what the Japanese meant by "beach defenses," even though there is ample documentation on their efforts to develop positions well inland, out of range of the Navy's big guns. One author, from the safe distance of five decades wrote: "That coastal defense units could have survived the greatest pre-invasion bombardment in history to fight a tenacious, organized beach defense was highly doubtful." I do believe something similar to this was confidently maintained just before the Somme in 1916, and it is worthwhile noting that every square inch of Iwo Jima and Okinawa was well within the range of the Navy's 8-, 12-, 14-, and 16-inch guns during those campaigns. [Murmurs and whistle.]
Points like these may sound rather nit-picky but they assume great importance when you realize that, as noted earlier, the target date for Kyushu of 1 November 1945 was going to get pushed back as much as 45 days, giving the Japanese as much as four and a half months from the flashing red light of the 29 July intelligence estimate to prepare their defenses.
The Joint Chiefs originally set the date for the invasion of Kyushu (Operation Olympic) as X-Day, December 1, 1945, and for Honshu (Operation Coronet) as Y-Day, March 1, 1946. To lessen casualties, the launch of Coronet would await the arrival of two armored divisions from Europe to sweep up Honshu's Kanto Plain and cut off Tokyo before the seasonal monsoons turned it into vast pools of rice, muck, and water crisscrossed by elevated roads and dominated by rugged, well-defended foothills.
Now, long before the British experienced the tragedy of pushing XXX Corps up a single road through the Dutch lowlands to Arnhem, an event popularized through the book and movie A Bridge too Far, US planners were well aware of the costs that would be incurred if the Kanto Plain was not secured for mobile warfare and airfield construction prior to the wet season. Intensive hydrological and weather studies begun in 1943 made it clear that an invasion in early March offered the best chance of success, with the situation becoming more risky as the month progressed.
With good luck, relatively free movement across the plain might even be possible well into April. Unfortunately, this assumed that the snow run-off from the mountains would not be too severe, and that the Japanese would not flood the fields. While subsequent post-war prisoner interrogations did not reveal any plans to systematically deluge low-lying areas, a quick thrust up the Kanto Plain would not have been as speedy as planners believed. First, there were no bridges in the area capable of taking vehicles over 12 tons. Every tank, every self-propelled gun, and prime mover would have to cross bridges erected for the event. Next, logistical considerations and the sequence of follow-up units would require that armored divisions not even land until Y+10. This would provide time for the defenders to observe that the US infantry's generic tank support was severely hampered by already flooded rice fields and- shall we say- suggest ways to make things worse for the invaders.
A late start on Honshu would leave American forces to fight their way up flood plains that were only dry during certain times of the year, but could be suddenly inundated by the Japanese. If the timetable slipped for either operation, US soldiers and Marines on Honshu would risk fighting in terrain similar to that later encountered in Vietnam- minus the helicopters to fly over this mess- where all movement was readily visible from even low terrain features and vulnerable convoys moved on roads above rice paddies. Unfortunately, foul weather would have delayed base development on Kyushu and spelled a potentially disastrous late start for the operation on Honshu.
Planners envisioned the construction of 11 airfields on Kyushu for the massed airpower which would soften up Honshu. Bomb and fuel storage, roads, wharves, and base facilities would be needed to support those air groups plus the US Sixth Army holding a 110-mile stop-line one third of the way up the island. All plans centered on construction of the minimum essential operating facilities. But that minimum grew. The 31- that's 31 - air groups was increased to 40 then to 51 - all for an island
on which there was considerably less terrain information available than we erroneously believed we knew about Leyte. Numerous airfields would come on line early to support ground operations on Kyushu, but the lengthy strips and support facilities for Honshu-bound medium and heavy bombers would only start to become available 45 days into the operation. Most were not projected to be ready until 90 to 105 days after the initial landings on Kyushu in spite of a massive effort.
The constraints on the air campaign were so clear that when the Joint Chiefs set the target dates of the Kyushu and the Honshu invasions for December 1, 1945 and March 1, 1946, respectively, it was apparent that the three-month period between X-Day, Olympic and Y-Day, Coronet, would not be sufficient. Weather ultimately determined which operation to reschedule
because Coronet could not be moved back without moving it closer to the monsoon season and thus risking serious restrictions on the ground campaign from flooded fields, and the air campaign from cloud cover that almost doubles from early March to early April. This was a no-brainer. MacArthur proposed bumping the Kyushu invasion ahead by a month. As soon as this was pointed out, both Nimitz and the Joint Chiefs in Washington immediately agreed. Olympic was moved forward one month to November 1, which also gave the Japanese less time to dig in.
Unfortunately these best-laid plans would not have unfolded as expected even if the atom bombs had not been dropped and the Soviet entry into the Pacific War had not frustrated Tokyo's last hope of reaching a settlement short of unconditional surrender- a Versailles-like outcome unacceptable to Truman and many of his contemporaries because it was seen as an incomplete victory that could well require the next generation to refight the war. An infinitely bigger war than the late unpleasantness in Vietnam, which would have seen us sending troops overseas in 1965 to fight Japan instead of to Southeast Asia. No deferments for that one. [Laughter.] The end result of this delay would have been an even more costly campaign on Honshu than was predicted. A blood bath in which pre-invasion casualty estimates rapidly became meaningless because of something that the defenders could not achieve on their own, but a low pressure trough sitting along the Asian littoral would: knock the delicate US timetable off balance.
The Divine Wind, or Kamikaze, of a powerful typhoon destroyed a foreign invasion force heading for Japan in 1281, and it was for this storm that Japanese suicide aircraft of World War II were named. On October 9, 1945, a similar typhoon packing 140-mile per hour winds struck the American staging area on Okinawa that would have been expanded to capacity by that time if the war had not ended in September, and was still crammed with aircraft and assault shipping- much of which was destroyed. US analysts at the scene matter-of-factly reported that the storm would have caused up to a 45-day delay in the invasion of Kyushu. The point that goes begging, however, is that while these reports from the Pacific were correct in themselves, they did not make note of the critical significance that such a delay, well past the initial- and unacceptable- target date of December 1, would have on base construction on Kyushu, and consequently mean for the Honshu invasion, which would have then been pushed back as far as mid-April 1946.
If there had been no atom bombs and Tokyo had attempted to hold out for an extended time- a possibility that even bombing and blockade advocates granted- the Japanese would have immediately appreciated the impact of the storm in the waters around Okinawa. Moreover, they would know exactly what it meant for the follow-up invasion of Honshu, which they had predicted as accurately as the invasion of Kyushu. Even with the storm delay and friction of combat on Kyushu, the Coronet schedule would have led US engineers to perform virtual miracles to make up for lost time and implement Y-Day as early in April as possible. Unfortunately the Divine Winds packed a one-two punch.
On 4 April 1946, another typhoon raged in the Pacific, this one striking the northernmost Philippine island of Luzon on the following day where it inflicted only moderate damage before moving toward Taiwan. Coming almost a year after the war, it was of no particular concern. The Los Angeles Times gave it about a paragraph on the bottom of page 2. But if Japan had held out, this storm would have had profound effects on the world we live in today. It would have been the closest watched weather cell in history. Would the storm move to the west after hitting Luzon, the Army's main staging area for Coronet, or would it take the normal spiraling turn to the north, and then northeast as the October typhoon? Would slow, shallow-draft landing craft be caught at sea or in the Philippines where loading operations would be put on hold? If they were already on their way to Japan, would they be able to reach Kyushu's sheltered bay? And what about the breakwater caissons for the massive artificial harbor to be assembled near Tokyo? The construction of the harbor's pre-fabricated components carried a priority second only to the atom bomb, and this precious towed cargo could not be allowed to fall victim to the storm and be scattered across the sea.
Whatever stage of employment US forces were in during those first days of April, a delay of some sort- certainly no less than a week and perhaps much, much more- was going to occur. A delay that the two US field armies invading Honshu, the First and Eighth, could ill afford and that Japanese militarists would see as yet another sign that they were right after all. This is critical. Various authors have noted that much of the land today contains built-up areas not there in 1946, but are blissfully unaware that, thanks to the delays, anyone treading this same, quote: "flat, dry tank country" in 1946 would, in reality, have been up to their calves in muck and rice shoots by the time the invasion actually took place.
Recent years have also seen the claim that the kamikaze threat was overrated. Time does not allow the subject to be discussed in any sort of detail here, but one aspect is worth emphasizing: US intelligence turned out to be dead wrong about the number of Japanese planes available to defend the Home Islands. Estimates that 6,700 could be made available in stages, grew to only 7,200 by the time of the surrender. This number, however, turned out to be short by some 3,300 in light of the armada of 10,500 planes which the enemy planned to expend in stages during the opening phases of the invasion operations- most as Kamikazes. All guesswork aside, occupation authorities after the war found that the number of military aircraft actually available in the Home Islands was over 12,700. Another thing about those 3,300 undetected aircraft, it is worthwhile remembering that, excluding aircraft that returned to base, the Japanese actually expended well under half that number as Kamikazes at Okinawa, roughly 1,400, where over 5,000 US sailors were killed.
Of course, to some, all this discussion about the surprise 3,300 kamikaze aircraft, the delay of the Honshu landing until the rice paddies were flooded, etc., is all moot because the Japanese were supposedly just itching to surrender even before the dropping of the atom bombs and the Soviet Union's entry into the war. Well, we'll just have to save that one for another time. [NOTE: For more on this side of the coin see Sadao Asada's article in the Fall 1998 Pacific Historical Review as well as the Herbert Bix piece in the Spring 1995 Diplomatic History.] Thank you all for allowing me to address you today. I'll conclude with a quick run-through of some slides to illustrate the tactical and strategic situation.
Slide 1- Operation's Olympic and Coronet. On the US side: 43 division equivalents. At the time of the surrender, the divisions within the dashed lines were in various stages of transferring from French ports to the Philippines. There were also approximately six more that were to be made available, three from Europe and three from the Pacific, with additional reserves in the continental United States. Great Britain would have supplied a minimum of three more divisions. Separate engineer, logistic and Army Air Force personnel would initially number in the hundreds of thousands and eventually surpass a million men.
Slide 2- Close-up of the Olympic invasion area on Kyushu. Divisions conducting initial assault. Follow-on divisions. Two Japanese corps. No intent to take entire island with its multi-million civilian population. Advance to a stop line far enough from the developing anchorage and airbase construction to keep them out of artillery range.
Slide 3- The provisional layout of the fighter defense of the Olympic invasion area. Radar pickets. Unlike Okinawa and the Marianas Turkey Shoot, where the great distances forced Japanese aircraft to approach along relatively narrow and predictable corridors, here the close proximity to bases would allow them to approach the highly vulnerable transports from anywhere along a wide arc. Mountain passes. The most dangerous scenario envisioned the Japanese slipping aircraft through the mountain passes and below the thin screen of combat air patrols- which, incidentally, is one of the things the Japanese planned to do.
Slide 4- Coastal terrain typical of southern Kyushu. This obviously would not be selected as a landing beach but even the ones selected had cliffs like these which were being heavily fortified.
Slide 5- This is a Japanese illustration of one of the earlier coastal artillery positions built into the cliffs much like these at the British fortress at Gibraltar. Later portals were left rough, both to conserve concrete and lessen their visibility. Tunnels were also angled to give better protection from the direct fire of naval guns.
Slide 6- Highly defensible terraced rice fields were a common feature on areas that could not be bypassed on both Kyushu and Honshu.
Slide 7- The underground stockpiling of munitions, gasoline and other war supplies was well advanced at the time of the surrender, roughly four months before the opening invasion, and perhaps as much as eight long months before the assault on Honshu. There is never enough time to prepare for an invasion, but from a purely technical standpoint, eight months is practically an eternity. American planners worked from the assumption that the war could last into at least the end of 1946. The Emperor was also not planning to go down fighting in the ruins of Tokyo as Hitler had in Berlin, and a massive staging area and underground complex beyond the Kanto Mountains was well on the way to completion when the war ended. It was located about a hundred miles northwest of Tokyo near the Olympic site at Nagano.
Slide 8- A Japanese poster warning the population that attacks on the Home Islands will intensify. It reads: Should there be air raids, They will not be intended for destroying our Homeland, But will be aimed to strike at our morale, Are we to let them destroy our Yamato fighting spirit?
Slide 9- Japanese midget submarines at Kure naval base. Reading the Summary Report of the huge US Strategic Bombing Survey one gets the impression that Japanese industry was kaput. However, the highly political document was written to advance the objectives of air power advocates and presented a somewhat rosy picture of what the Army Air Force had accomplished. As this photo demonstrates, not only could highly technical priority items still be produced in quantity, they could also be successfully hidden from the prying eyes of US reconnaissance aircraft fully six months after they commenced operations from nearby Okinawa.
Slide 10- The operational plan for Operation Coronet called for a swift strike up the Kanto Plain to cut off Tokyo by a pair of US armored divisions from Europe. As a practical matter, however, there was no way to actually conduct the envisioned movement in a timely fashion.
Slide 11- The brown area on these maps indicated areas of seasonal flooding in the plain. Gray indicates areas that can be artificially flooded, while blue indicates land containing high densities of rice paddies. Moreover, [back to slide 10] as US mechanized forces moved north along the highway between the low-lying areas and the foothills, more and more of their left
flank would be exposed to artillery in these foothills. To get at this artillery, additional divisions would have to be pushed into the ever-lengthening hill mass to conduct fighting similar to that of Italy two years earlier and Korea five years in the future. As of August 1945 this had not yet been anticipated, consequently no significant amount of troops had been allocated to this critical and manpower-intensive task.
Slide 12- Even when rice paddies are ostensibly dry as this one is, they present formidable barriers to even tracked movement. Moreover, the sodden nature of most dikes and paddy floors did not lend themselves to effective operation of devises like the hedgerow cutters in Normandy. The rice paddies would have to be taken in a tedious, set-piece manner.
Meanwhile, the armored divisions fighting up the main road north past Tokyo would frequently find themselves limited to a one-tank front as happened to British XXX Corps when it was delayed reaching Arnhem by minimal German forces in the Dutch lowlands.
Slide 13- Many are familiar with the various personal anti-tank weapons Japanese infantry were to employ, like hollow-charge rifle grenades plus the usually suicidal satchel charges and plethora of hand-operated hollow-charge mines. However, the ///real/// killer of US tanks during the invasion- especially on the Kanto Plain- was going to be a weapon that the Japanese had been unable to put to good use so far in the war: the Mark 97 20mm rapid-fire anti-tank rifle. Even the comparatively thin frontal armor of the M4 Sherman was too thick for such a weapon, but in the paddy fields it was a different story. At short range from expertly camouflaged positions, even a mediocre gunner could pump from two to a half dozen shots into the 1-inch and less belly armor of the Sherman as they reared up high over the dikes. Passing beneath the driver and bow machine-gunner, the shells would smash into turret personnel, engine compartment and stored ammunition with catastrophic results. Japanese divisions were initially issued only 18 of these weapons each. After Saipan, the 20mm was manufactured in such great quantities that even the newest units contained the revised complement of 8 per rifle company- that's 72 per division.
Slide 14- Last is a photo of the Sugar Loaf on Okinawa a relatively unimposing little hill with a total area of not much more than two football fields. Note the size of the two soldiers at the summit. Putting aside the artillery-studded foothills along the Eighth Army's steadily lengthening flank, and the ongoing slugfest along the elevated roads and rice paddies, it is useful to note that there were many such unimposing terrain features on the Kanto Plain that, like this little Okinawan hill, could not be easily bypassed. In five days of fighting in May 1945, the Japanese defenders here and on two supporting hills behind it inflicted over 3,000 Marine casualties- in spite of lavish tank and artillery support- before they were finally defeated.
Slide 15- Two Down- One to Go. [Cover of War Department pamphlet distributed to troops in summer 1945.]
Published by D. M. Giangreco on this subject from about 1995 to date:
"Casualty Projections for the U.S. Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy
Implications" Journal of Military History (July 1997): 521-81
"To Bomb or Not to Bomb," Naval War College Review (Spring 1998): 140-45
"Truman and the Hiroshima Cult" and othe books reviewed, Naval History, US
Naval Institute (October 1995): 54-55
"Operation Downfall: US Plans and Japanese Countermeasures," at the
University of Kansas symposium Beyond Bushido: Recent Work in Japanese
Military History, February 16, 1998
"Dropping the bomb on Japan: a-COUNT-ing for the Casualties" on the NET
television program Modern War, Washington, DC, December 12, 1997
"Operation Downfall: The Devil Was In the Details," Joint Force Quarterly,
National Defense University (Autumn 1996): 86-94.
Chaired panel at the 1999 SMH conference at Penn State, What Did They Know
and When Did They Know It?: Intelligence Assessments and Assumptions Before
the Invasion of Japan. Papers available in booklet form in June: Robert H.
Ferrell (Indiana State), Jacob W. Kipp (US Army Command and General Staff
College), General Makhmut Akhmetevich Gareev (Academy of Military Science,
Moscow) and Thomas B. Allen (National Geographic).
Letter, Journal of American History (June 1997): 322-23
Letter, Joint Force Quarterly (Summer 1996): 6-7
Letter, New England Quarterly (September 1998): 481-83.
Engaged in a general discussion of Robert P. Newman's work in the the
April 1998 American Historical Review, 663-64, and a book review
(Alperovitz et al) coming up in Parameters, US Army War College. Subject
also comes up in newest book Dear Harry: The Truman Administration
through Correspondence with "Everyday Americans" (see Amazon.com).
Thats what I always thought we only had the 2, sure as hell would have been a bloody invasion, than throw radioactivity in the mix, would have been bad. Didnt quite a few of rescuers get sick and die after going into the blast zones? Seems I read that a long time ago.
Sombody wrote a what-if novel many years ago about the called-off invasion of Japan, called "Light as a Feather" Pretty good IIRC. Black US carrier fighter pilots, Japanese-American troops, last ditch Japanese fighting. Very bloody.
I think the invasion would have left America far more scarred emotionally and casualty-wise than the liberation of Europe. We would have had to fight for every inch of territory of a very mountainous, unfamiliar land, as at Iwo Jima and on Okinawa.
It would have left American/Allied forces with casualty rates like those of the Russians when they fought against the Germans, and if the Russians had showed up in Japan, and not played as "nice" as they had in Europe (relatively speaking....), there would have been WW3. That's how angry America was in 1945.
America's war against the Japs was personal. "Remember Pearl Harbor" was not just a slogan. It would have been a bloodbath that would have dwarfed America's memories of the horror of WW1 and the US Civil War.
We were very lucky in 1945.
It was an excellent read.
There was also another novel written about the Bombs not being ready in time, too. I can't remember its title. It wasn't as good.
And I've never understood that.
If it was me, I'd have blockaded them, and called it good.
Then the Sovs would have invaded. We really didn't want a "North Japan/South Japan" solution.
We could have simulated a nuke with yet another firestorm which were more devistating, but lacked radiation fallout.
I have a book at home that has the numbers. IIRC, we had one that would have been ready in a few weeks and five more that would have been ready by October or November. I think they were all of the fat man type.
I'll bet we could have prevented a soviet invasion.
The Soviets couldn't have invaded Japan without us letting them, the Soviet Navy would not have lasted a half hour against the Naval Armada we had in the Pacific. At the end of the war, the US Navy was a well run and oiled machine with no equal.
The blockading fleet would have had to put up with the above.
That is a fascinating read. God, what a fight that would have been - thankful it didn't have to happen.
In a reasonably credible book I read about ten years ago about the end of the Pacific war, title unfortunately forgotten, the commanding General of the atomic bombing missions was quoted as saying the next, or third bomb's delivery was to be preceded by a leading B-29, or possibly two, that would eject a huge cascade of fireworks and flares over the target city, so as to force the population to look up.
While the folks were admiring the display, the bomb-carrying aircraft would have arrived, the bomb dropped and detonated, and those not killed in the blast would be instantly blinded.
The after Okinawa the US Navy opposed an invasion… there would have been a massive conventional bombing campaign with Okinawa as the base, lots more civilian deaths and IMO an eventual the Japanese surrender to the same terms.
If the nukes hadn't worked, we were pretty much left with an invasion. We could have bombed more with incendiary and/or HE bombs, but by the time the a-bombs were dropped, we were running out of targets.
An invasion would have been very messy for all involved.
Today we still use the Purple hearts purchased for the invasion of Japan.
Korea, Vietnam, Gulf I, Gulf II.........etc.
my grandpa passed away when i was 12 of cancer. before he died, before he really knew he had the big C- he talked to me about fighting on Tienian and Siapan.
he had always been a really jovial, practical joking guy - a horrible alcoholic, but not mean. he talked for about an hour in a way that i had never seen him. completely serious and stoic.
he told of what they knew was going to happen if they had to invade Japan. he told me he certainly would not have survived, but that by the time it was over- NOTHING LIVING IN THAT COUNTRY WOULD HAVE EITHER. he thinks that GI's mopping up would have killed and burned every animal and every person, by pure hate.
most people dont understand how hated the japs were.
Plans for more atomic attacks on Japan
The United States expected to have another atomic bomb ready for use in the third week of August, with three more in September and a further three in October. On August 10, Major General Leslie Groves, military director of the Manhattan Project, sent a memorandum to General of the Army George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, in which he wrote that "the next bomb . . should be ready for delivery on the first suitable weather after 17 or 18 August." On the same day, Marshall endorsed the memo with the comment, "It is not to be released over Japan without express authority from the President." There was already discussion in the War Department about conserving the bombs in production until Operation Downfall, the projected invasion of Japan, had begun. "The problem now [13 August] is whether or not, assuming the Japanese do not capitulate, to continue dropping them every time one is made and shipped out there or whether to hold them . . . and then pour them all on in a reasonably short time. Not all in one day, but over a short period. And that also takes into consideration the target that we are after. In other words, should we not concentrate on targets that will be of the greatest assistance to an invasion rather than industry, morale, psychology, and the like? Nearer the tactical use rather than other use."
 ^ a b c The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II, A Collection of Primary Sources, (pdf). National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 162. The George Washington University (1945-08-13).
I found this a while ago in an interview with Col. Paul Tibbets:
What I found funny was that Gen. LeMay just took it for granted that he was going to keep dropping A-Bombs until the Japanese surrendered.
IIRC, I read something a long time ago (dont remember where) that we had/were processing enough uranium to build 2 or 3 more fairly quickly if needed.
I used to have a document (don't know where it went or what source I got it from, damn it! ) that gave some insight into the amount of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons that planners (General Marshall and others) intended to have on hand for use - if necessary - in Operation Downfall. By March of '46, if I recall correctly, 25 or more nukes were expected to be on hand with several more produced each month, thousands of tons of chemical agents, thousands upon thousands of anthrax bomblets, etc.
Now, again, I don't remember where I got the information from and thus can't verify its accuracy, but from what I understand it sounds about right. Any way one slices it, the invasion of Japan would have been a ghastly affair, whereby the sheer ferocity of both sides combined with the technologically advanced weaponry/WMD on hand would have resulted in a battle with very few precedents in the history of warfare.
There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. would have, had it been thought necessary, killed every living thing on the Japanese islands and the American public wouldn't have blinked an eye. I also believe that, had the Emperor ordered the Japanese population to do so, they would have fought virtually to the last man, woman, and child.
More over, the Japanese did not want a partioned Japan.
Most likely, Japan surrendered not because a couple of nukes killed a couple of hundred thousand people but because the Soviet Union had entered the war maybe two weeks earlier.
Had the Soviets participated in the invasion, The North Island of Hokkaido plus many smaller islands to the north would have gone to the Soviets.* Japan knew this and surrendered to the US to preserve the home islands.
The Soviets did get the Kurils vack after the war.
This is not a bump for an interesting thread.
The navy had a plan calling for a blockade of the Japanese Islands with continuing bombardment. They felt it would be the least costly in terms of human lives, primarily American. It was aptly called the "Navy Plan".
MacArthur was pushing the "Army Plan" which had him as supreme commander of the land and sea forces for the greatest amphibious assault in history. This plan had a lot of political backing as it was thought that a blockade could have lasted years before a surrender. The politicians didn't believe the American people had the stomach for years of blockade, with the war in Europe over. They wanted a quicker resolution, or at least a more active one.
The Navy, bowing to political reality, finally backed the Army Plan. Both became meaningless after the second bomb was dropped.
As an interesting aside in the "what if" discussion, there is evidence that the Japanese were close to manufacturing their own atom bomb. Some even believe that they tested one in Korea a couple days after we dropped our first, but they would have been unable to produce another for at least several months.
If in fact that is true, how might that have affected things if the surrender hadn't taken place.
ETA: It can reasonably be argued that one possible outcome of politicians setting artificial deadlines for military campaigns is the dropping of nuclear weapons, among other possibilities.
Please don't do that: interesting as hell threads should be allowed to die an ignominious and early death.
Back to the subject at hand: Anyone have the definitive nuke weapon production estimates in late '45 and 46?
excuse my ignorance but what would it have been hard to slap together a few more bombs? Once you have a proven design is it not just a matter of assembling more? could parts really be that hard to manufacture?
Wow. Just wow.
The radioactive material is hard to produce. It takes a whole new industry. It's like discovering steel and then immediately jump to making battleships.
Radioactive material needs to be refined, etc. Takes time.
oh right, forgot that nukes need the glowing stuff to go boom.
I recall that we built two A-bombs, used one in a test, and then assembled a third out of nuke stuff we got off a U-Boat that was initially destined for Japan but turned around and surrendered to the US.
I dont know about the ones after that, but the first A-bomb we dropped on Japan was 100% American and the second one was 50% American / 50% German.
The blockade already had started to really grab the Japanese by the throat at the end of the war. The US Sub fleet had completely destroyed the Japanese Merchant Marine, they only had a few Merchant Marine ships left, the Japanese Navy was in complete ruins. No fuel or food was coming in, submarines were even blowing fishing boats out of the water. The very last raid of the war, B-29's completely destroyed the very last Japanese oil refinery which means the Japanese had a very finite amount of fuel left. I suppose we could have dropped herbicide on the areas that grew rice to really put the boots to the Japanese.
Tag for the fascinating discussion.
Apparently the RAF's 617 SQN of Dambusters fame was going to be party of Britain's contribution to Downfall. 617, and indeed, the whole of 5 Group, used Barnes Wallis' Tallboy (11k lb) and Grand Slam (22klb) earthquake bombs. The US had also developed a 44klb bomb that could be carried by B-29s and B-36s, but was never operationally deployed.
So in between the atomic bombing, the caves, caverns and fortifications would have been hit with massive penetrator bombs, probably making the fighting slightly easier for the allies, and killing massive numbers of Japanese holed up in these fortresses.
"Vice Admiral Halsey was at sea in his flagship, USS Enterprise, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Upon learning of the Japanese attack, he was overheard remarking that after this war the Japanese language would only be spoken in hell.
Halsey's contempt for the Japanese was well displayed throughout the war to the officers and sailors under his command in very successful campaigns to boost morale. One such example was a sign that Halsey had hanging on the bulkhead of his flag quarters that said 'Kill Japs, Kill Japs, Kill More Japs!'. "
And that's from the top command.
The JDAM of its day- VERY effective. Britain, France, the Netherlands, Australia and NZ were all going to be part of this invasion force. There were British carriers getting mauled by kamikazes off the coast of Japan before the war ended, I believe. (somebody correct me if that's wrong) Their planes were bombing Japan in anticipation of invasion. Virtually all the Royal Navy's main battle fleet was going to be part of the invasion.
That's how big this invasion was going to be.
The British Carriers did extremely well against Kamakaze attacks, they had steel decks that were extremely resilient to those kind of attacks. There were a bunch of reports of Kamakaze's striking the deck and basically bouncing off with superficial damage to the flight deck. This did NOT go unnoticed by the US Navy!!!
If memory serves me right in the last few months of the war US carrier task forces were roaming up and down the Japanese coast raiding at will and hitting targets of opportunity as they pleased.
Japan was pretty much bottled up.
Yes, Battleships and other naval vessels went close to shore at night and did bombardments. Also the Silent Service continued to heavily patrol all of Japanese waters to include the Sea of Japan.
Its a myth that we only had those two bombs, that it would have been a long while till we had more.
We were busy making more bombs as the first two were used, we had another Fat Man ready to go right away if a third had been needed. If needed the material from that one could have been recycled into Little Boys. The Fat Man was already obsolete as it used enough material to make 2 or 3 of the Little Boy type bombs and we had a pile of Little Boy cases waiting for "filler".
After Japan surrendered there was no hurry to build more of the Little Boy bombs, production was curtailed because better bombs had already been designed.
The lack of bomb production after Nagasaki was due to the fact that they were not needed.
Yep. After Trinty, we had two, Fat Man and Little Boy. These were the production lots (although Little Boy was a test of plutonium). But TVA had the energy to refine fissionalble isotopes and the next weapon was only months away.
Now we had other means of raining destruction on Japan. And fire was the best. We killed more Japanese civillians with conventional weapons, including incinderary attacks, than both atomic weapons.
We even had BAT deployed fire bombs. Yes, thousands of Mexican Freetail bats were equiped with incinderary bombs, set off when the bats hid in the houses where they were released.
The Fat Man was the more advanced weapon and its fissile material was NOT compatible with the Little Boy's less efficient gun weapon. Pu-239 can not be used in a gun weapon, a Pu-239 slug would melt before even reaching the other mass. The Little Boy used U-235 for its fissile material, it can be used to make a pit for implosion weapons but it takes far more U-235 than Pu-239 to make equal weapon.