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"Japan 1944–45: LeMay’s B-29 strategic bombing campaign " Topic

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Tango01 In the TMP Dawghouse09 Feb 2019 12:34 p.m. PST

"Japan 1944-45 examines the only time in history that a major war was ended by the use of air power. It shows how the United States used a combination of industrial capability and geography to devastate Japan from the air, and why the Japanese, despite a promising start to their defense, proved unable to prevent the XXIst Air Force from destroying their country.

Since the early 1930s air power advocates had claimed that aerial bombardment alone could defeat a nation. Yet by January 1945, while it had been the key to winning ground campaigns, from the German Blitzkrieg to the Allies' advance across the Pacific, air power had failed to demonstrate their most audacious claim: that strategic bombing, by itself, could win a war.

The United States sought to prove it by reducing the Japanese Home Islands' military and industrial capability through bombing alone until they had to surrender."


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Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2019 12:51 p.m. PST

Well, first you have to prove that the war was ended by air power, not submarines, uranium, and plutonium. If that's included I'll need to put this on the big list…

Dagwood09 Feb 2019 3:03 p.m. PST

The uranium and plutonium were delivered by air ?

jdpintex09 Feb 2019 6:01 p.m. PST

+1 Andrew

The 1945 earthquake probably did more damage to their industrial capacity than bombing. Albeit the low level fire bombing of cities also did more than precision bombing.

R Leonard10 Feb 2019 8:35 a.m. PST

First you have to have a place from which your strategic air power can operate in order to effectively reach the enemy.

In this case that required a couple of islands, which were taken by folks with rifles transported to the scene by ships and protected from enemy naval interference by big gun ships waiting in the wings and out at the pointy end, airplanes from aircraft carriers.

A couple of intermediate islands wrested the same way between these bases and the target area come in handy, too.

batesmotel3410 Feb 2019 9:59 a.m. PST

The fact that the Soviet had overrun Manchuria rapidly and were now in position to invade the home islands from three north wether the Japanese were not prepared to defend may well have had as much outer more to do with ending the war without a US invasion as nuclear bombs and air power.


R Leonard10 Feb 2019 7:10 p.m. PST

The Soviets had not the sea lift capability to invade the Japanese home islands from the Asian mainland . . . and the Japanese knew it. The best the Soviets could come up with was a half baked plan for a landing in northern Hokkaido. This "invasion" of Hokkaido, the Soviets, with remarkable foresight, were planning on launching from a port on Sakhalin that they had not completely secured. Their plan was to move a rifle battalion (a battalion!!!) at a time across the La Perouse Strait – no comparison to a river crossing or even their previously largest such movement at Kerch in the Crimea. Note the proposed "invasion" was from Sakhalin, not the Asian mainland. Stationed on north end of Hokkaido, for just such an eventuality, at least from the information provided to SCAP by the Japanese, was an infantry division . . . hmmm, battalions, essentially coming ashore in motorboats and longboats, while they lasted, piecemeal, against a division. That might have been interesting.

One might note that one of the things worked out at Yalta, besides ceding the entire island of Sakhalin to the Soviets and making the 38th parallel as the dividing line of occupation areas on the Korean Peninsula, was that the demarcation line between the Soviets and the US with regard to the Japanese home islands was, surprise, that same La Perouse Strait. Remember the Elbe River as a stopping point? So, when Stalin informed Truman of the plan, he was gently, perhaps not so gently, reminded of that dividing line. It was Stalin, himself, who called off the operation. One might also note that the proposed Soviet operation was to occur after the Japanese announced their acceptance of the Potsdam terms and the acceptance of same by the Allies pending a formal surrender . . . nothing like running out the clock. I guess just to keep busy the Soviets spent the next three or four weeks invading islands in the Kurile chain, shooting it out with the mini-garrisons stationed there, threatening with gunnery passes any USAAF over flights and eventually expelling the Japanese inhabitants . . . perhaps a foretaste of what might have been in store for Hokkaido.

Besides, there was already a USN presence lurking about on the island of Hokkaido since 15 July 1945.

Tango01 In the TMP Dawghouse11 Feb 2019 11:19 a.m. PST

Interesting indeed….


Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2019 6:08 p.m. PST

The net result was.

A Independent US Air force that was all in on Strategic bombing with Nukes. They could drop tactical air support completely because there was never going to ever be a Naval/ground war again.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Feb 2019 10:48 a.m. PST

Yeah, the notion that air power won the war against Japan all by itself is ridiculous. I think the only war ever won primarily by air power was that mess in Boznia-Hertegovina in the '90s.

Lion in the Stars12 Feb 2019 2:49 p.m. PST

hmmm, battalions, essentially coming ashore in motorboats and longboats, while they lasted, piecemeal, against a division. That might have been interesting.

would have made for some excellent fishing for the rest of 1945, anyway.

Air power made it clear that the US didn't need to invade to destroy Japan.

But it was sea power, submarines specifically, that made it possible for air power to convince Japan to stop fighting, by removing all the raw materials from the Japanese factories.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2019 5:34 a.m. PST

While not robust by any means the Soviets were building up an amphibious capability in the Far East courtesy of the US!

Project Hula saw some 149 US ships, including 30 Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) transferred to Russian forces in the Far East. Training on their use was provided by a special US group. The biggest problem the Soviets faced was their inexperience in large scale amphibious operations.

Aethelflaeda was framed15 Feb 2019 12:49 p.m. PST

I think even Bosnia required British unit on the ground. Iirc artillery.

R Leonard15 Feb 2019 6:23 p.m. PST

oh goodie, 30 LCIs for which they had no real amphibious doctine or practice. . . lets see, that is about 6000 troop capacity . . . provided no one is shooting at them.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2019 12:44 a.m. PST

The Japanese ruling council which was dominated by the military was unmoved by the suffering of he Japanese people. After the first bomb there was little movement towards capitulation. The second bomb was confirmation that the US had more than one and could make more. Which they were.

The invasion of Manchuria by the Soviet Union had an impact and fear of a Soviet invasion. Whether they could pull it off or not. They had very little sealift capacity. The idea of having a north and south Japan was a real possibility to the Japanese.

After the atomic bombing, there was still no guarantee that Japan would give up. Marshall suggested using nine atomic bombs to blast away Japanese defenses prior to Americans hitting the beaches. Keep in mind few people understood the effects of radiation.

What finally lead to the Emperor's intervention was that the Allies now called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces. Which signalled that the Emperor system would be preserved. Hardly any thought was ever given to the suffering of their own citizens.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2019 12:57 a.m. PST

As to Bosnia-Herzegovina and the role of airpower. It is widely considered to be the first conflict to be won by airpower alone. However I would recommend this paper which I found useful.

PDF link

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2019 6:39 a.m. PST

R Leonard. It was a start and the plan did not envision a full scale Russian invasion immediately. While project Hula called for a total of 180 ships to be transferred it was envisioned there would be follow on ships and programs as well. As I mentioned the US was training them and as I also said lack of operational experience was an issue.

Project Hula ships, including the LCI's, took part in both the Kuril and Sakhalin operations where the Soviets began to gain the experience they lacked.

Aethelflaeda was framed16 Feb 2019 8:00 a.m. PST

Rallynow, a good article, on just my initial reading of it I find in the third paragraph of the abstract, that it clearly mentions gains made by the Bosnian * army* as making the situation ripe for coercive bombing and it is clearly stated as the very first conclusion that airpower alone had to be coupled to embargos, diplomatic efforts and ground troops.

It is bit of an overstatement to say that it was airpower primarily won anywhere. You always have to have an anvil no matter how good a hammer. Air Force fanboys have been making this mistake ever since an Italian theorist thought a fast, unarmed bomber fleet was all you needed.

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