- Apr 3, 2004
- Reaction score
- First name
They had a good chance of getting ashore, if they could have got there with sufficient troops. I'm not suggesting that an invasion fleet and subsequent landing force would have been badly damaged, the Japanese had surprise on theirs side and I suspect would have gained substantial lodgements if not complete control on one or more of the islands. Unlike Wake or Midway with the Hawaiian islands just have too much coast to be defended with sufficient density and the Japanese could pick weak spots.Hawaiian invasion after multiple airstrikes by the Kido Butai obtain complete air supremacy over the islands - the Close escort force battleships bombard landing beaches near Pearl City - and assault waves come ashore with the smoking ruins of the US Pacific Fleet still at anchor where they sunk or capsized? Could the Japanese have pulled off a surprise invasion on December 7th?
The problem is logistics. As it was the historical PH strike force was at the limit of it's logistical range. It was expected that they would have to leave destroyers behind to fend for themselves on the return leg due to the difficulty of at sea refuelling. They just managed that, but an invasion force would have required the services of a multitude of smaller than cruiser sized ships that would not have had the range to get to Hawaii and back and then assist in SE Asia. The larger combat vessels would have had the range without refuelling, but would have had to hang round to assist the invasion, severely weakening or delaying the SE Asia attack. Let us not forget that the raw material resources (oil, tin, rubber, etc) of SE Asia was the primary and dominant reason to go to war, everything else was subordinate to that.
As it was ground forces that were used in the Philippines had to be drawn off for the Malay invasion before the Philippines invasion was completed and were later returned/replaced. Even I have difficulty in comprehending the thinness of force margin that the Japanese had. Everything had to go just right. With the exception of the first Wake invasion, that indeed happened, so it appeared then and still appears to a good extent now, that the Japanese had great force superiority. A major defeat or severe delay in one enterprise would have affected the next like a snowball starting an avalanche. (Don't start me on MacArthur, grrrrrr!)
I have a feeling that they could easily have held the islands for a bit more than a year, the loss of PH would have been a severe brake on the USN, but supporting the islands would have been an utter nightmare and once the US arrived in sufficient force the Japanese would have had to kiss their garrison goodbye.
If PH was a smash and grab raid by a strong, fleet footed teenager, the invasion of the Islands would have been the equivalent of bringing your extended family, including grandparents, pregnant women and babies along.
In summary, while temporarily more successful than Seelöwe, the end result would have been the same, the loss of any garrison. Besides the Japanese simply did not have the spare forces.
As an aside, while in Alternate History fora the Unmentionable Sea Mammal (Seelöwe) is a standing joke, an invasion of the Hawaiian Islands rarely gets mentioned as it is considered so implausible and so strategically moronic (even by Japanese standards).