What if they didn't drop the Nukes?

goodoldboy

MIA
Book Reviewer
not sure what percentage of civilian housing in Tokyo was made from the traditional paper and softwood, but I think Doolittle did little damage in his first air raid with Mitchell Bombers dropping conventional bombs, on the other hand if he had dropped incendiaries instead, he could have carried far more per ton and done far more damage. But the end result was still going to be the same, a blinding white flash brighter than the sun.
The Yanks absolutely plastered Tokyo and Yokohama with conventional weapons from the air, especially from early 1945 onwards. The firestorms were at least equivalent in ferocity as those at Dresden, Hamburg and anywhere else in Europe.
 
The Yanks absolutely plastered Tokyo and Yokohama with conventional weapons from the air, especially from early 1945 onwards. The firestorms were at least equivalent in ferocity as those at Dresden, Hamburg and anywhere else in Europe.
oh I quite agree, once they got going, but my point is the very first raid made by Mitchell Bombers launched from aircraft Carriers because that early on in the war, the Allies hadn't captured an island close enough to japan to launch regular attacks, they wanted to hit back after Pearl Harbor, had they carried Incendiarys instead of bombs on that first raid, they could have really made it worth while. Especialy as the lack of range meant landing in China, so it was a high loss mission.
 
It was interesting for me to read the de-classified summary of the Target Planning Committee. Although I was aware of the reasons normally given, those reasons included the proximity of POW/Labour camps in the vicinity of potential targets (which were known).
Nothing in the summary indicates this was a factor in the planning- another myth perhaps?

Target Planning Committee
Fascinating read!
 
There was a shortlist of possible targets, with various arguments in favour of each one.

Hiroshima was chose because:


Nagasaki was:


Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The possibility of doing a demonstration in an unpopulated area was considered, but nobody could come up with a convincing way to do one. If they did it on Allied controlled territory, the Japanese would assume it was a fake. If they tried to do it in a pre-announced manner on Japanese controlled territory, the Japanese would try to stop it. If they did it unannounced in sparsely populated Japanese territory, the Japanese military or security forces would cover it up.

Also the bombs at that stage were very fiddly, and the demonstration might have to be called off at the last minute. A failure would lose the shock and surprise effect which were being counted on to produce the desired result. Recall that significant parts of the Japanese military hierarchy wanted to continue fighting even after both bombs were dropped.

Keep in mind that at that time only a very small number of people knew what an atomic bomb was or what it could do. The average person had no standard of reference to compare it to. To achieve the desired effect required the weapons to produce a psychological shock to the political hierarchy of Japan. To do that it had to come as a surprise, the magnitude of the effects of it had to be clear to any observer, and it had to be done in a place where the results couldn't be concealed from the Japanese leadership by the security forces.

If the psychological shock opportunity was lost, it couldn't be regained. If the Japanese had time to think about it, they could have come to the conclusion that even if this so-called "atomic bomb" was real and not an Allied hoax, then it was just a worse form of the sort of bombing they were already enduring. In that event they could have decided to fight on to the end regardless. How many atomic bombings would then have been required to induce a surrender? Twenty? Fifty?

I haven't seen a single plausible proposal offered as an alternative to what was actually done. Not one.
I am going to copy and paste this then archive for any future 'discussions' on why the atomic bombs on Japan!
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Well Japan would have been utterly depopulated, and the Japanese would have gone the way of Tasmanians. Truman wouldn't have gotten re-elected, and so really anything is up in the air at this point.

There's an interesting (if only slightly chilling) study of some aspects of the US invasion of Japan, in a 1998 Proceedings of the US Naval Institute ("The Most Deadly Plan", Polmar and Allen).

Strategic bombers would drop 56,583 tons of poison-gas bombs in the first 15 days of what the document called the "initial gas blitz." And they were to drop another 23,935 tons of gas bombs every month that the war dragged on or until all targets had been hit.
When landings began in November, tactical fighters and attack planes were to drop another 8,971 tons in the first 15 days, followed by 4,984 tons of bombs every 30 days. Other planes would swoop low, using spray tanks to spread thousands of tons of liquid gas over Japanese defenders.
During the landings, U.S. troops would bring ashore 67 Army battalions of 105-mm and 155-mm howitzers and 4.2-inch mortars that were to fire about 1,400 tons of gas shells every 30 days.

The Japanese were declaring they were willing to fight to the last man, woman or child; it's not as clear now, as it was then, that many of their opponents were quite willing to oblige them.
1623749854592.png
 

goodoldboy

MIA
Book Reviewer
There's an interesting (if only slightly chilling) study of some aspects of the US invasion of Japan, in a 1998 Proceedings of the US Naval Institute ("The Most Deadly Plan", Polmar and Allen).

Strategic bombers would drop 56,583 tons of poison-gas bombs in the first 15 days of what the document called the "initial gas blitz." And they were to drop another 23,935 tons of gas bombs every month that the war dragged on or until all targets had been hit.
When landings began in November, tactical fighters and attack planes were to drop another 8,971 tons in the first 15 days, followed by 4,984 tons of bombs every 30 days. Other planes would swoop low, using spray tanks to spread thousands of tons of liquid gas over Japanese defenders.
During the landings, U.S. troops would bring ashore 67 Army battalions of 105-mm and 155-mm howitzers and 4.2-inch mortars that were to fire about 1,400 tons of gas shells every 30 days.

The Japanese were declaring they were willing to fight to the last man, woman or child; it's not as clear now, as it was then, that many of their opponents were quite willing to oblige them.
View attachment 581575
The Allies did the Japanese (and ourselves) a favour with the two atomic events - as the consequences of the alternative(s) are almost unimaginable.
 
There's an interesting (if only slightly chilling) study of some aspects of the US invasion of Japan, in a 1998 Proceedings of the US Naval Institute ("The Most Deadly Plan", Polmar and Allen).
I think it's worth noting that the full title was;
A Study of the Possible Use of Toxic Gas in Operation Olympic,

Many proposals are put forward in planning, It's a prudent way of operating.
Like the ship load of Mustard gas shells that was blown with USS John Harvey in Bari Harbour Italy, there would have been plans for it's possible use against the Germans. And thus the same against the Japanese at the time of possible invasion.
The fact that chemicals weapons and plans were available doesn't mean they would be used. I think the chances of that plan becoming reality were quite slim.

It would be unfortunate if it became cast in internet stone that a justification for the use of the atomic bombs was that their use saved the Japanese from a wholesale gassing.
 

g4eddie

Old-Salt
The Allies did the Japanese (and ourselves) a favour with the two atomic events - as the consequences of the alternative(s) are almost unimaginable.
Its worth remembering that had the war carried on into later 1946 and 1947, the Japs would have had their mountain based factories pumping out jet fighters and bombers ( designs from Germany) with no way for us to destroy the factories.
If these factories had been able to pump out jet fighters and bombers in quantity, there was a real chance for the Japs to halt our air supremacy over the area and then mount ground-attack on our troops.
There would have been a real possibility for them to cause a stalemate ....rather sobering really.

G4eddie
 
not sure what percentage of civilian housing in Tokyo was made from the traditional paper and softwood, but I think Doolittle did little damage in his first air raid with Mitchell Bombers dropping conventional bombs, on the other hand if he had dropped incendiaries instead, he could have carried far more per ton and done far more damage. But the end result was still going to be the same, a blinding white flash brighter than the sun.
The Doolittle raid consisted of a very small bomb load targeting specific industrial targets.

It wasn’t later in the war that leMay went for area bombing with incendiary’s.
Ironically the Doolittle raid encouraged the Japanese to outsource a lot of war production to civilian areas. It wasn’t uncommon to find a fly press in the living room of a house.

leMay acknowledged he would’ve been considered a war criminal, but he also knew he had no other option
 
Its worth remembering that had the war carried on into later 1946 and 1947, the Japs would have had their mountain based factories pumping out jet fighters and bombers ( designs from Germany) with no way for us to destroy the factories.
If these factories had been able to pump out jet fighters and bombers in quantity, there was a real chance for the Japs to halt our air supremacy over the area and then mount ground-attack on our troops.
There would have been a real possibility for them to cause a stalemate ....rather sobering really.

G4eddie
The Japanese had no oil at that stage, so pointless were their planes by 1945 they were using them as one-shot cruise missiles just to use them up before they ran out of fuel.
 
The Japanese had no oil at that stage, so pointless were their planes by 1945 they were using them as one-shot cruise missiles just to use them up before they ran out of fuel.
Pointless yet they still kept flying into ships.

japan at that point cruelly domestically produced 8% of its oil needs.

there’s lots of what’s and if’s

what would’ve happened had the blockade been left to run its course?

what would’ve happened if Japan had used chemical and biological weapons on allied troops or conducted ballon attacks against the mainland US using them?

what if there’s been a military coup that denounced the pro war government?

what if they’d been a counter coup against the anti war government.

nobody had any inkling that the atomic bombs would work. All planning underway had been for them not working, which would’ve involved mass casualties.
 
Pointless yet they still kept flying into ships.

japan at that point cruelly domestically produced 8% of its oil needs.

there’s lots of what’s and if’s

what would’ve happened had the blockade been left to run its course?

what would’ve happened if Japan had used chemical and biological weapons on allied troops or conducted ballon attacks against the mainland US using them?

what if there’s been a military coup that denounced the pro war government?

what if they’d been a counter coup against the anti war government.

nobody had any inkling that the atomic bombs would work. All planning underway had been for them not working, which would’ve involved mass casualties.
Kamikazes were perhaps the least efficient use of planes and pilots in the history of air warfare.

If your oil supply has been reduced by 92% you no longer have an effective modern military.

I am making no judgement on the atom bomb, I happen to believe that its use was justified, but let's not pretend that by late 1945 Japan posed any real threat to the overwhelming military and industrial supremacy of the Western Alliance. What remained of the Japanese army and some crackpot civilians could kill thousands in suicide attacks, perhaps, maybe, but they would have been subdued very quickly indeed.
 

goodoldboy

MIA
Book Reviewer
Its worth remembering that had the war carried on into later 1946 and 1947, the Japs would have had their mountain based factories pumping out jet fighters and bombers ( designs from Germany) with no way for us to destroy the factories.
If these factories had been able to pump out jet fighters and bombers in quantity, there was a real chance for the Japs to halt our air supremacy over the area and then mount ground-attack on our troops.
There would have been a real possibility for them to cause a stalemate ....rather sobering really.

G4eddie
No, I can't agree.

If the Japanese hadn't surrendered in August 1945 the third atomic device would have arrived at Tinian the following month, ready for deployment in early October. By then the US would have been conventionally fire-bombing for a further six weeks and the Allied fleets would have joined the US fleet(s) with their own big guns and fighter aircraft. Probably two more nuclear weapons would have been made ready by December 1945.

Even if no further atomic devices were used after Nagasaki, Japan would have been utterly defeated by non-nuclear means around early 1946 leaving a devastated wasteland.

The two key unknowns would have been:

Would the plans to use chemical weapons come to fruition - which, in turn, would mean that an Allied land invasion probably be untenable and not necessary anyway?

What would the Soviets (and perhaps the Chinese) have contributed, assuming they wanted their revenge?

No, the Japanese would have had too much on their plate in any scenario to start churning out jet aircraft and materiel from factories inside mountains within a hot earthquake zone.
 
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Kamikazes were perhaps the least efficient use of planes and pilots in the history of air warfare.

If your oil supply has been reduced by 92% you no longer have an effective modern military.

I am making no judgement on the atom bomb, I happen to believe that its use was justified, but let's not pretend that by late 1945 Japan posed any real threat to the overwhelming military and industrial supremacy of the Western Alliance. What remained of the Japanese army and some crackpot civilians could kill thousands in suicide attacks, perhaps, maybe, but they would have been subdued very quickly indeed.
I beg to differ.

20% of kamikaze planes hit their targets rarely resulting in anything other than significant damage to the target. Quite often sinking the intended target, but more often putting it out of action for significant periods of time.

normal aircraft running normal attack profile would rarely hit anything, and most of the aircraft would be destroyed as well.

2800 kamikaze attacks resulted in 34 ships sunk. 368 severely damaged. 4900 sailors killed and over 4600 wounded.

what damage did 2800 conventional sorties achieve?

I’d say quite an effective use of a pilot and a plane.

mots a bit like saying that every posthumous VC was a waste of resources .
 
I beg to differ.

20% of kamikaze planes hit their targets rarely resulting in anything other than significant damage to the target. Quite often sinking the intended target, but more often putting it out of action for significant periods of time.

normal aircraft running normal attack profile would rarely hit anything, and most of the aircraft would be destroyed as well.

2800 kamikaze attacks resulted in 34 ships sunk. 368 severely damaged. 4900 sailors killed and over 4600 wounded.

what damage did 2800 conventional sorties achieve?

I’d say quite an effective use of a pilot and a plane.

mots a bit like saying that every posthumous VC was a waste of resources .
So they sank 34 ships for the loss of 2,800 pilots and planes destroyed, how long do you think you would have an air force at that rate of attrition? Remind me how big were the US, British and Australian navies at that stage?

It's a bit like the bloke who goes into the showbiz agent and explains he has a brilliant trick, he can make his head explode at will. The agent asks him to show him the trick, the man closes his eyes tightly, pauses and his head explodes.

"Fantastic!" says the agent and promises to sign him on the spot.

"The problem is, though," says the bloke "I can only do it once".

That's how useful a suicidal air force is, when you are pulling that trick off you have to all intents and purposes conceded defeat.
 
So they sank 34 ships for the loss of 2,800 pilots and planes destroyed, how long do you think you would have an air force at that rate of attrition? Remind me how big were the US, British and Australian navies at that stage?

It's a bit like the bloke who goes into the showbiz agent and explains he has a brilliant trick, he can make his head explode at will. The agent asks him to show him the trick, the man closes his eyes tightly, pauses and his head explodes.

"Fantastic!" says the agent and promises to sign him on the spot.

"The problem is, though," says the bloke "I can only do it once".

That's how useful a suicidal air force is, when you are pulling that trick off you have to all intents and purposes conceded defeat.
They wouldn’t have had an airforce much longer either way.

the use of kamikaze attacks however was an outstandingly good use of resources.

minimal pilot training plus plane = high success rate against allied shipping.

minimal pilot training with no access to fuel for training + shagged, obsolete airframe = massive chance of being shot down without inflicting any damage on the enemy.

Japanese pilots at that time weren’t successfully bombing ships or land targets, or shooting down enemy aircraft.

B29 aircraft were more at risk from mechanical failure than enemy action. In fact, towards the end of the war, Japanese fighters weren’t really trying to shoot American bombers down. Either the pilots were wary of being shot down themselves or die to defensive fire.

the Japanese were after massive casualties for the Allies.
 
They wouldn’t have had an airforce much longer either way.

the use of kamikaze attacks however was an outstandingly good use of resources.

minimal pilot training plus plane = high success rate against allied shipping.

minimal pilot training with no access to fuel for training + shagged, obsolete airframe = massive chance of being shot down without inflicting any damage on the enemy.

Japanese pilots at that time weren’t successfully bombing ships or land targets, or shooting down enemy aircraft.

B29 aircraft were more at risk from mechanical failure than enemy action. In fact, towards the end of the war, Japanese fighters weren’t really trying to shoot American bombers down. Either the pilots were wary of being shot down themselves or die to defensive fire.

the Japanese were after massive casualties for the Allies.
We appear to be in agreement, the Japanese air force, navy and army were absolutely wrecked by late 1945, they had no access to fuel or other supplies and Japanese cities were being turned into the equivalent of municipal ashtrays every other night. The best they could hope for was killing a few thousand Allied troops at the cost of tens of thousands of their own, perhaps including women and children.

As strategies go that's a pretty lousy one, there is only one way that is going to play out.

The Japanese were beaten beyond redemption, there was no wonder weapon or divine wind that was going to save them, it's as well for them that they threw in the towel when they did.
 
If the Japanese hadn't surrendered in August 1945 the third atomic device would have arrived at Tinian the following month, ready for deployment in early October. By then the US would have been conventionally fire-bombing for a further six weeks and the Allied fleets would have joined the US fleet(s) with their own big guns and fighter aircraft. Probably two more nuclear weapons would have been made ready by December 1945.
You are quite correct about the production time-table,
Here's a letter from General Groves stating that the next bomb will be ready for dropping on 28th August, However the hand-written note on the bottom written by Army Chief of Staff is quite significant.
GroveLetterFull.png

The note states. 'It is not to be released on Japan without express authority of the President.'

The excerpt below is from the diary of Vice-President Henry Wallace containing an account
of the cabinet meeting held on 10 Aug 45 (the day after the Nagasaki bombing) I feel
sure if this was an inaccurate account. it would have been challenged long ago.

HenryWallaceDiary.png
Diary of Henry Wallace, Truman's Vice-President

While of course the US continued to turn out atomic bombs, their use was most likely to be a deterrent against the Soviet Union and that Truman's order to stop bombing Japan wouldn't have been revoked.
 

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goodoldboy

MIA
Book Reviewer
You are quite correct about the production time-table,
Here's a letter from General Groves stating that the next bomb will be ready for dropping on 28th August, However the hand-written note on the bottom written by Army Chief of Staff is quite significant.
View attachment 581658
The note states. 'It is not to be released on Japan without express authority of the President.'

The excerpt below is from the diary of Vice-President Henry Wallace containing an account
of the cabinet meeting held on 10 Aug 45 (the day after the Nagasaki bombing) I feel
sure if this was an inaccurate account. it would have been challenged long ago.

View attachment 581666Diary of Henry Wallace, Truman's Vice-President

While of course the US continued to turn out atomic bombs, their use was most likely to be a deterrent against the Soviet Union and that Truman's order to stop bombing Japan wouldn't have been revoked.
Thanks for that, especially the hand-written footnote which I hadn't seen before now.

Like you, I have no doubt that the US would have been prepared to use WMD against the Soviets over any over zealous encroachments.

Concerning the agreement from Bevin on the terms of surrender, I'm sure that he, like any right minded human being, wanted the whole thing over and done with.
 
We appear to be in agreement, the Japanese air force, navy and army were absolutely wrecked by late 1945, they had no access to fuel or other supplies and Japanese cities were being turned into the equivalent of municipal ashtrays every other night. The best they could hope for was killing a few thousand Allied troops at the cost of tens of thousands of their own, perhaps including women and children.

As strategies go that's a pretty lousy one, there is only one way that is going to play out.

The Japanese were beaten beyond redemption, there was no wonder weapon or divine wind that was going to save them, it's as well for them that they threw in the towel when they did.
There wasn’t a wonder weapon or divine wind.

yhere were however biological and chemical weapons that could’ve been used to make any allied victory a Pyrrhic victory. And that’s not even including any civilian casualties on the continental US.

Max Hastings covers this in Armageddon. Lots of different players. Lots of different requirements.

he does point out that Allied strategy wasn’t as coordinated as one might think.

not withstanding the obvious Nimitz/MacArthur tensions.

Some USN were happy to have the Royal Navy along. Others weren’t.

the Australians were in a shocking state by 1945. Their troops as always did well, but they’d manage to introduce conscription with a ‘you have to volunteer to go abroad’ so an awful lot of the Australian Army didn’t leave Australia.

Australian Dockers kept going on strike.

le Mays didn’t start his bombing missions with CoS approval. He started it on his own initiative and said it worked.

I tend to find that if somebody is looking back and has a point to make, they’ll be able to find supporting evidence to back their hypothesis up. However half a dozen different people have the same issue so it ends up murky.

the much vaunted, the US did it as a demonstration to the Russians doesn’t hold much sway. The Japanese in Manchuria, although kicking sh*t out of the Chinese up until the last were cut off from Japan by submarine blockade. They weren’t going anywhere .
 
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