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"A Japanese landing on the East Coast of the USA" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2020 9:42 p.m. PST

… have been possible?

Reading that…

"…Some Japanese talked about taking over Africa, Latin America, and the western United States. In March 1942, LIFE magazine ran illustrations of Japanese troops marching past Mt. Rainier (Washington), American demolition teams blowing up the Golden Gate Bridge as they retreated, and firefights in California gas stations. There were only 100k U.S. troops guarding the entire West Coast. Major General Joseph Stilwell, in charge of the California portion, wrote in his diary, "If the Japs had only known, they could have landed anywhere on the coast, and after our handful of ammunition was gone, they could have shot us like pigs in a pen."…"
From here


khanscom25 Mar 2020 8:21 a.m. PST

I recall talking with Jack Scruby some 40+ years ago mentioning that he and his neighbors were prepared to muster their horses and rifles and resist any Japanese invasion of California post- Pearl Harbor. He did sound dubious about the probability of success, though. Could be a speculative skirmish game in that.

mjkerner25 Mar 2020 9:08 a.m. PST

I think you mean West Coast, Tango, but anyway, they would have supplied their forces how?

JMcCarroll Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2020 10:03 a.m. PST

How many west coast Americans were there back then? This is America, land of the almost EVERYONE is armed. Sorry but pin pricks would be all they could do, and they knew it.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2020 11:43 a.m. PST

Yes… my mystake… West Coast…

I know people have arms… but civilians against an veteran Army… Hum!…


RudyNelson25 Mar 2020 12:15 p.m. PST

I think that a positive outcome at Midway for the Japanese would present some interesting scenarios. A logical objective for the Japanese to control the Pacific would be a strike and invasion of Panama to control the canal. This would be a good way to limit American naval reinforcements prior to an invasion of the west coast.

rmaker25 Mar 2020 12:32 p.m. PST

civilians against an veteran Army

Gunning down unarmed Chinese, Filipinos, etc. hardly makes them a veteran army.

Look how poorly the Japanese fought at Nomonhan.

Raynman Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2020 1:18 p.m. PST

When ever someone mentions civilians against a veteran army, I think back to the Vietnam war. Early part of the was pretty much civvies against a trained army. And how many people could they put a shore versus all the hunters and outdoors people? The hunters only have to take out one or two each, pretty soon attrition will start working against them.

Pan Marek25 Mar 2020 1:26 p.m. PST

While partisans can make a dent in an invading/occupying army, they cannot alone defeat it. The notion that untrained civilian "hunters" with sports weapons, would defeat a real invading army is a ridiculous overuse of American myth making.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2020 1:37 p.m. PST

West Coast perhaps (technically, they did invade Alaska, so…..), but not the East Coast.

They had plans to strike the Panama Canal with their aircraft launching subs, but never pulled it off.

Mark 125 Mar 2020 2:04 p.m. PST

I know people have arms… but civilians against an veteran Army… Hum!

OK, let's draw the scenario out.

How large of a Japanese army? One division? Two? Three? They didn't have the lift capacity to move more than about that, even if they put their entire fleet to it.

First you have to cross the Pacific. There is no harborage between Hawaii and the coast, so you can't build up a forward base somewhere. You have to sail the whole way in one bound.

But the Japanese don't have underway refueling. So you can only use ships that can cross from wherever your safe harborage is to the west coast. You might have lots of ships that can do that one-way, but remember there is NO safe harborage for you on the west coast, so you need elements that can make a round-trip. That greatly reduces the number of fleet elements you can use.

Let's say, though, that you somehow manage to put about 20,000 "veteran" Japanese troops on the west coast. Do you put them all together? Or do you put them in two or three places?

There are about 100,000 US Army troops on the west coast. It's a LONG coastline. So you can easily overwhelm them at any one or two points, and get ashore.

Then what?

After 5 days or so you have the remains of 20,000 exhausted "veteran" troops who are short on ammunition and short on food. Maybe you can assign some portion of your troops to gathering and distributing food from local supplies. To do this effectively you'll need to take some towns and cities. You will face the challenge that the more you expand (as you must to capture food supplies), the fewer troops you'll be able to spare from combat for foraging.

In any case you won't be able to forage for ammunition -- your calibers are just not going to be common in US supplies. So ever bullet spent is gone for good. And it will take weeks before your fleet returns with supplies, if ever.

At the same time, by day 5 your force will probably be surrounded by something like 200,000 "green" but fully equipped and supplied US Army troops. These are the remains of the 100,000 who were present when you arrived (you only engaged a small portion of that total), as well as troops from all over the rest of the US. The US had a perfectly functional railroad system, so troops can be brought in from any part of the country in 2 days.

You also face anywhere from a few hundred to over 500,000 armed and angry "resistance fighters" who also probably have all the ammo they need. The range is wide, because they won't be well organized and transported. So it depends on where you go with your troops.

Enter any coastal city of 100,000, and you will face the potential of another 10,000+ armed insurgents. Try to take a city of a million, and you will face the potential of another 100,000+ armed insurgents. Any small town of 10,000 may add another 2,000+ armed insurgents. This is because small towns had smaller populations but higher rates of gun ownership. The proportions are likely to grow as you work your way inland, as again gun ownership rates were higher in the mountains and farmlands.

What are your 20,000 exhausted, hungry, ammo-starved "veterans" likely to achieve?

The challenge of an invasion only STARTS with getting ashore. Once ashore, you have to be able to do something useful. Quite frankly the only thing you can do with an army is keep the US busy for a few weeks, at the cost of that army.

You could probably achieve the same result, for a much lower cost, with 3 or 4 platoon-sized "raids". Get ashore, take some facility, engage some troops, blow some stuff up, and get out (if you can). The challenge is doing the third or fourth, against fully alerted west coast defenses, without getting sunk at sea. But you have challenges getting to the west coast undetected in any scenario, and there are more alternative approaches to getting a platoon sized party into position than a full division.

(aka: Mk 1)

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2020 2:56 p.m. PST

They certainly could have landed – my uncle was in the Prince Albert Volunteers guarding the British Columbia Coast – he recalled that when he was patrolling the beach for most of the year the fog was so thick he could see about 30 feet in front of him and 30 feet behind; he said they could have landed a regiment 100 yards behind him and he would have never known

Now, the very good question as noted above – what do you do with that regiment once it lands and how do you keep them in ammo and rations?

catavar26 Mar 2020 5:59 p.m. PST

I don't know. It could've been a PR nightmare to the point where the US Government questioned it's Germany first commitment.

I think most families would have grabbed their stuff (and guns) and departed with everyone else once word spread. Sure, some locals may have made their displeasure known, but this would probably have been just an annoyance.

Then again, this hypothetical setting I'm describing means that the troops (once ammo had been off-loaded) would probably be left to their own devices. I doubt local food stuffs would initially have been hard to acquire. Terror would've been the main goal and, after Pearl Harbor, the country would probably be in deep shock I think. In those circumstances local resistance may have collapsed, if it was practical at all. Mission accomplished in my opinion.

Sure, this line of thought takes a lot for granted; the Japanese Navy has the logistics necessary to launch the attack, the fleet arrives almost undetected and the military doesn't mind throwing away a regiment or more.

I think all the above is a very remote possibility, but consider what the Japanese accomplished at Hawaii and in the rest of the pacific. Who's to say what they could do once they set their minds to it?

Zephyr126 Mar 2020 9:08 p.m. PST

They did miss the chance to invade Hawaii from the outset… ;-)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2020 10:15 p.m. PST

What if they tried on Canada…?


Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2020 6:36 a.m. PST

I am more along Rudy's line of thought. Given many of the practical obstacles laid out by Mark and others here a much better use of what capability they did have would be a landing to totally sabotage the Panama Canal. For many of the same reasons why they would have trouble supplying their forces on the West Coast they would have troubles in Panama as well. Once the canal was destroyed there would be little need to continue an occupation.

Lee49427 Mar 2020 11:34 a.m. PST

Oh please! This isn't even hypothetical its just plain silly! There was a much better chance of Germany invading Long Island than the Japs EVER setting foot on the West Coast. And they knew that otherwise they would have taken a crack at Hawaii after Pearl Harbor. To realize the impossibility of such a venture just look at Guadalcanal. They could never muster enough resources to beat a handful of US troops very close to their major bases and supply sources. How in heaven's name were they going to do that all the way across the Pacific? Had they foolishly landed 20-30,000 troops on the West Coast (a maximum effort given their resources) after a couple of months we just would have marched the starving remnants off to POW camps! Cheers!

Legion 427 Mar 2020 3:51 p.m. PST

Bottom line the IJFs in WWII simply did not have the assets and capabilities to do so.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Mar 2020 5:41 a.m. PST

It was never a possibility for all the reasons given. And it's not like the west coast was undefended by the US Navy, either. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the least damaged battleships were sailed back to the west coast and repaired. Other battleships were transferred from the Atlantic and by February they had been organized into Task Force One with eight fully operational battleships.

Legion 428 Mar 2020 9:25 a.m. PST

I have been told by another Vet. That in recent years the Japanese send their tanks to Yakima Rg, near Ft. Lewis, WA. For tank gunnery and maneuver training. I guess they don't have the room on their home islands.

So I guess it took them over 60-70 years to do so. But they finally landed on the West Coast at port in the USA ! huh?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2020 12:22 p.m. PST



Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2020 10:35 p.m. PST

At least… they have tried…



Legion 431 Mar 2020 9:03 a.m. PST

Yes, they thought it was a great victory landing on Attu and Kiska. They of course didn't hold them for very long, took a lot of losses, and were eventually "evicted" from those island.

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