The Pacific Wars were a series of conflicts between Japan and the United States that saw Japan arise as the most powerful nation in the Pacific in the first two conflicts when Japan seized control of the Philippines and Hawaii and nearly brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in the third Pacific War when Japan was on the brink of firing ICBM's at the United States to resolve the conflict.
The First Pacific War
The Japanese Empire and the United States had been in conflict over control of the Pacific trade routes since the 1890's when the United States had seized control of the Philippines and the Japanese had launched two new battleships that were some of the most advanced ships ever built and were easily capable of defeating the best ships that the United States had west of the Panama Canal. The Launching of the IJS Mikasa in 1901 had spurred on a naval race between the two powers and although both fought on the same side in the First World War neither had been significantly involved at sea or land, the Japanese had seized control of the Russian far east and a few small islands and America had expanded its borders slightly to the south.
The main point of contention between the two powers, control of the Pacific had not yet been determined. During WWI Japan and the USA had both significantly expanded the sizes of their navy, officially in order to better deal with their opposition in the North Pacific, namely what was left of the Russian Pacific fleet but in reality both sought to expand their fleets to combat the other. Japan, in particular, had significantly expanded its fleet in the war building ten new dreadnought battleships and six battle cruisers to the United States' six and four. After the war, however, the Japanese had let its production of large surface ships slide in order to focus on aircraft carriers and submarines. In 1920 Japan had thirteen battleships, eight battle cruisers and five aircraft carriers as well as an assortment of smaller ships. The United States could muster a significantly larger fleet of twenty battleships and twelve battle cruisers as well as smaller ships but these were split by necessity between the Pacific and Atlantic fleets.
In 1923 war had broken out between China and Russia, Japan's attention was drawn to the west and it fought two battles against the Russian fleet in which it emerged victorious. The American military establishment saw this as an opportunity to challenge Japanese rule of the Pacific and decided to send the Pacific Fleet north and attack the Japanese port at Vladivostok.
Attack on Vladivostok
The Japanese naval base at Vladivostok was the cornerstone of the defense of the Northern Japanese home isles and was one of the largest and most important naval bases in the Northern Hemisphere. It was home to eight Japanese battleships and four battle cruisers as well as a sizable percentage of the Japanese destroyer fleet. On January the 3rd the American's orchestrated a torpedo attack on the Japanese fleet that sank three-quarters of the Japanese fleet in one strike. The remnants of the Japanese fleet orchestrated a counterattack that took down a pair of American battleships before being sunk.
The American attack on Vladivostok, much as the Japanese Attack on Port Arthur had in the First World War meant that the Japanese Army lost the ability to transport men by sea and furthermore that the Japanese had no real defense against the considerably larger American surface fleet and had no way to prevent it from conducting bombardments of the Japanese home isles. However, the Americans had not completely succeeded in the destruction of the entire Japanese fleet. A significant percentage had been involved on training exercises with the British in the Indian Ocean and this Included four battleships and battle cruisers as well as three of Japan’s aircraft carriers, with the other remnants of the Japanese fleet now held at anchor at Kure.
More importantly for Japan’s future prospects the attack on Vladivostok had killed the Japanese Navies current commander in Chief, Admiral Tago of the First World War, Tago very last act had seen him command his Flagship Akaki into battle against the American’s when he had been killed by a shell that struck the ships bridge. While he had been an excellent strategist when it came to battleship tactics and had been dubbed the “Nelson of the East” by western journalists Tago had little experience with the new carrier force that made up the surviving Japanese navy. Admiral Yamamoto on the other hand had been the driving force behind the development of carrier tactics and firmly believed that the success of any navy in a future war would depend on the ability of its captains to use aircraft and submarines to the full.
Upon learning of Tago’s death Yamamoto ordered his fleet to cease their activities with the Royal Navy and head east, back towards the Japanese home Islands.
Bombardment of Tokyo
While Yamamoto’s fleet was several hundred miles away of the Indian coast the American Fleet under Admiral Hoover was tacking advantage of the lack of Japanese forces around the home Isles to deal severe damage to the Empire. Hoover planned to conduct a bombardment of Tokyo and to use his superior number of battleships to allow a Marine expeditionary force under General MacArthur to land in the Japanese capital.
On the 22nd January Hoover’s ships begun the bombardment of the Japanese Capital, anchored safely offshore out of the range of the coastal batteries. There was a panic in the Japanese capital and Emperor Hirohito considered offering Japan’s formal surrender to the Americans. He attempted to do so through the British Ambassador, the US Ambassador having been recalled at the beginning of the conflict. The Ambassador, Admiral Fischer refused to pass on the Japanese surrender telling the Emperor that “You might have lost one battle and your capital might be in ruins but out there in the Indian Ocean is the combined forces of the two greatest Navies the World will ever see, It has been said that it takes three hundred years for a navy to build a tradition, I tell you this, if Japan is victorious you will have proved that saying wrong. Recall Yamamoto, give him supreme command and I promise you within six months the Americans will be on the defensive”
The Emperor agreed to give his admiral a chance and ordered Yamamoto recalled from the Indian Ocean. The Admiral arrived on the 24th January after a perilous flight that had almost seen him shot down by American anti-air fire, The American fleet had now successfully taken out the cities perimeter defense forts and the battleships were now engaged in a long range duel with the coastal fortresses. Yamamoto was surprised to find out, however, that the majority of the Japanese Naval Air Base in Tokyo bay was intact along with its planes. The Pilots had fled at the beginning of the bombardment and had received no orders since. Yamamoto changed that he ordered them to return to the base and to begin attacking the American ships with Torpedoes and bombs. Although the attackers were inaccurate and the bombs and torpedoes weak and prone to malfunction enough got through the pathetic American anti-air fire to cause severe damage to the American attackers and sink three battleships. Furthermore, Yamamoto ordered the 1st Submarine flotilla to escape from Kure and attack the American blockade, sinking another battleships. Hoover decided to quickly withdraw without his own air support back to the Philippines where he hoped to take on extra supplies and refit his smaller ships to better deal with the Japanese aircraft.
Battle of Leyte Gulf
This gave Yamamoto the ability to go on the offensive for the first time in the conflict, He now planned to launch an amphibious assault on the Philippines at Leyte. To do so he had to secure operational control of the seas around the Islands and defeat or trap the still larger American fleet under Hoover. Yamamoto knew that there was no way for the Japanese navy to take on its American equivalent in a straight fight, Japan, despite its major improvements to industry since the Meji restoration simply did not have the industry required to engage and defeat the American’s in a fair fight. Yamamoto knew this and decided that his best bet at defeating the Americans would be to attack them as the American fleet was passing through the Philippines at Leyte.
Flying his flag in the aircraft carrier Shōkaku Yamamoto planned to have the remnants of the Japanese home fleet, namely the Carriers Shokaku and Taiho and the Battleships Ise and Mikasa steam south from Kure and strike at the Americans from the north while the Japanese Expeditionary force under the command of Admiral Naguma would divert its course from the Tagoshima Straits and move towards the south of the Philippines where it would attack the American fleet from the South. The plan depended heavily on co-ordination between Naguma and Yamamoto’s fleets as even the slightest miscalculation in timing or strategy might leave either task force vulnerable to attack from the American ships . Yamamoto was very concerned at the prospect of the American’s getting wind of the attack and being able to intercept his ships. If they were able to do so it would have a significant adverse Impact on the ability of the two Japanese fleets to attack the Americans and might allow Hoover to strike first with his limited land based aircraft. As such, there was no communication between the two fleets and the battle strategy depended on the ability of both fleets to stick to the timetable.
The 5th of April was the date set for the attack and Naguma’s fleet arrived as planned in the early morning and launched a scouting flight to locate Hoover’s ships. However, Yamamoto‘s fleet had not arrived yet having been delayed after the fleets refueling tender had struck a mine that severely damaged the engines. Nonetheless, despite not being able to press the attack with his battleships Yamamoto decided to order a scouting party from his Carriers with the aircraft operating at the very limits of their range.
Naguma’s aircraft sighted the bulk of the American fleet first and reported back to Naguma at midday that the American battleships were sailing north east towards Yamamoto’s ships. Naguma, decided to break radio silence and inform his superior of this development while launching a strike force consisting of Fairy Swordfish torpedo bombers. Yamamoto also now had the intelligence regarding a force of American Battle cruisers that were heading towards his fleet and launched a wave of dive bombers against the American ships. Furthermore Yamamoto now decided to play his secret card, ordering the 1st Submarine Group into the fray.
Naguma’s strike force was mostly inefficient, only three American battleships were hit and one of those hit suffered only minor damage while the other two took on considerable water and began sinking. More successful were the submarines of the 1st Submarine Group. The Americans had never developed ASW tactics, their main naval opponents in WWI, Russia and Spain had preferred to use surface raiders than submarines and Hoover was dismissive of their usefulness as a tactic. While he acknowledged that torpedoes were a dangerous threat to his ships he had ignored the lessons of WWI and still structured his fleet in a traditional fashion, without anti submarine defenses. Hoover had been lucky at Kure but at Leyte his luck ran out, Japanese sub’s sunk four ships in the first salvo and within two hours most of the American battleship fleet was in ruins. Meanwhile Yamamoto’s dive bombers were also having considerable success against the American battle cruisers, even more so that their battleship cousins - the American Navy’s battle cruisers suffered from weak top armor, something that the Japanese pilots had trained to exploit. Of the six battle cruisers sighted by Yamamoto’s scout party only one survived and the USS California was only able to survive by virtue of her Captains unorthodox use of her main batteries, fitting them with flak shells to create a virtually impenetrable field of flak around her.
At the end of the battle of Leyte Gulf the Japanese had lost only a few submarines to American destroyers, the American Pacific fleet on the other hand had lost almost all of its major surface combatants. Hoover had now moved his flag to the only surviving battleship, the USS Baton Rouge but was hounded by the now larger Japanese battle fleet to which he surrendered to at the end of April, control of the Philippines was now almost certain for the Japanese.
The Philippines Campaign
Now that the Japanese navy had done its part the burden fell to the Imperial Army to seize the Philippines and teach the Americans a lesson for their arrogance in presuming that they could defeat the Imperial Japanese Navy. However, while the Imperial Navy was one of the best in the world and had now proven itself to be the equal of any western force the Imperial Army was for the most part untested against a major foe and had never fought against an Army as well equipped and trained as the American one. Under General Togo the Japanese army hoped to achieve a quick victory by seizing Manila and the other cities and forcing the Americans under General MacArthur to surrender. Togo had relied upon the fact that the natives would support him in his endeavours and that the American’s cut off from their supplies by the Japanese Navy would be unable to use their tanks and other vehicles.
He was completely and utterly wrong on both counts, not only were the Philippines native inhabitants more inclined to side with the Americans than the Japanese they also went to great lengths to keep MacArthur and his troops supplied. MacArthur went on the offensive with his tanks and forced Togo back into Manila where they fought a pitched battle to keep hold of the city. Togo was victorious only with the aid of the Imperial navy and Imperial Naval Air Service and the failure to win a clear victory over the American’s shook much of the Japanese establishment who had been told that the only way that the Americans had been victorious at Vladivostok and Tokyo was because they had been underhanded and sneaky and that when the two met in fair combat the Japanese were destined to win. This had been born out by Leyte Gulf but Togo had swung the balance back the other way.
Hoover was now shamed by the American establishment, having presided over the loss of the majority of the American navy. The American Public would not accept surrender, however, at least not until they had attempted to reverse the Japanese successes. The American fleet, however, now lacked the ships that it needed to go on the offensive against the Japanese. America’s ally in the South Pacific, Chile had the ships and the manpower needed to launch another offensive but the Chilean leadership was already angry at its American ally over Harding’s refusal to consult them over the attack on Vladivostok.
However, the Chilean leadership was willing to lend the Americans their considerable fleet but on one condition, A Chilean admiral had to be in command of the Combined task force and they had to be in complete control of the conflict, including being able to decide when they pulled out of the conflict. Admiral Frödden decided that the focus of his attack would be the Philippines and that he would attempted to land a combined American Chilean marine force in Manila and force the Japanese on the defensive, in the hopes of forcing a conditional surrender which left America in control of the Islands.
The Battle of Manila Bay
Frödden knew that any chance of defeating the Japanese came with the element of surprise, his ships ran at night with no lights and flew under a false flag of Argentina to avoid raising Japanese suspicions. This was made more successful by the fact that there was in fact an Argentine Battleship squadron conducting exercises with the Brasilian Imperial Navy in the south Pacific at that time.
The Chilean fleet approached Manila at the end of November and prepared to launch an attack against the Japanese fleet in Manila fleet. Yamamoto had drawn the majority of his forces away from the Philippines and the defense of the Island rested on the beached USS California and Baton Rouge which now flew a Japanese flag and a Cruiser squadron under Captain Fuchida who flew his flag in the Battle cruiser Taiho. Against this was a Chilean/American fleet consisting of the Chilean Battleships Almirante Latorre, Almirante Cochrane and Huascar and the American Battle cruisers Nevada and Ohio. Furthermore Admiral Frodden, like Yamamoto in Japan and Commodore Nimitz in the USA was a pioneer of aircraft in naval warfare and the fleet also included the experimental Chilean aircraft carrier Capitan Prat. The Chilean fleet engaged the Japanese in Manila Bay on December the 6th, first striking with an air attack that severely damaged the two grounded American ships and sank a Japanese heavy cruiser, this was the first time that the Japanese had come under attack by a rival air power and their anti-air training was found to be severely lacking with a number of Japanese crews panicking and failing to follow their assigned drills.
Leaving behind the Capitan Prat the Chilean fleet continued its advance into Manila Bay, the two American defense ships were burnt out by combined fire from the Nevada and Ohio and the rest of the combined fleet advanced into the Harbor. The Taiho and a pair of Japanese heavy cruisers was now all that stood between the combined American forces and Manila Bay. Fuchida also had at his disposal a squadron of Imperial Japanese Navy JN-2 Dive Bombers and it was on these that he placed the success of the defense. A protege of Yamamoto Fuchida ordered the squadron to make a bombing run on the American Battle cruisers, successfully taking advantage of their weak top armour to send both ships to the bottom of the Ocean. He then ordered the Taiho and the Mugami and Tone to engage the Chilean fleet. Here Japan was dealt its first major defeat, the Tone and the Mugami were sunk and Fuchida surrendered to the Chileans. Frodden's ships had not survived unharmed, however, and the Huascar and Almirante Latorre were badly damaged and Frodden realised that even though he had been victorious at Manila, he could not possibly hope to hold out against the main Japanese battle fleet, surrendering to Yamamoto on December the 12th. All that now remained was for a settlement to be reached between Japan and the United States.
The End of the War
The American Populace still resisted the idea of a settlement with the Japanese but the establishment now realized that they had been comprehensively defeated, while the US Navy still retained enough ships in the Atlantic to make continued conflict possible, they did not outnumber the remaining Japanese fleet by a sufficient margin to make victory a distinct possibility. Furthermore the Atlantic fleet was older and more outdated than the Japanese Fleet and suffered a number of glaring issues that made them even more vulnerable to Japanese aircraft than their Pacific cousins. As a result the American Navy Department, most notably Admiral Fletcher and Commodore Nimitz urged President Harding to offer his surrender to the Japanese before the war got even worse for the Americans. It was in Nimitz’s opinion only a matter of time before the Japanese launched attacks on the American homeland and this was surely a worse outcome than a little humiliation. Furthermore with the exception of Hoover the majority of the navy department made it very clear that they would not continue to countenance any further wastage of American ships in a war they viewed as futile. It was the closest America had come to a military coup d’etat in decades and Harding, wisely decided that to continue would be futile, arranging a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister and agreeing to give up the Philippines in exchange for an end to the war.
The Two sides signed a peace treaty on December the 12th 1923 but the American public disliked the idea of having been humiliated by an inferior race and Harding would pay for his supposed betrayal of the American people when they went to the poles in December of the following year.
The Second Pacific War
President Robert Taft, or Taft the Younger had been elected on a strong Anti-Japanese, nativist platform in 1924 promising to restore the prestige that America had lost in the first Pacific war. Taft’s administration began a massive production of American battleships and battle cruisers as well as continuing along the wartime accelerated program and laying down a pair of aircraft carriers on the advise of Commodore Nimitz who was now the presidents national security advisor. American Commanders, including the now forgiven Hoover trained for a future war with the Japanese.
On the other side of the Pacific the Japanese fleet mostly lay at anchor. The First Pacific War had significantly reduced the number of large combat ships available to the Imperial Navy and it had been reduced from its pre-war state of 13 Battleships to less than four. Even its aircraft carrier fleet was suffering, The Carriers had not been designed for the high intense conflict of the Pacific War and they were suffering for it as were the airframes of the Japanese aircraft. These issues were compounded by a shift in Japanese industry away from military equipment and towards a civilian industrial base. As a result by the beginning of 1926, barely a year after Taft’s inauguration the Imperial Japanese navy had been reduced to Six Battleships & Battle cruisers and Six Carriers, barely half of its wartime size and outnumbered by the American Pacific fleet. Japan did have, however, a very strong merchant fleet that it used to establish its commercial supremacy over the Americans.
The third combatant of the first Pacific war, chile had spent the time between the end of the fist war and the beginning of 1926 vastly expanding its navy with the help of Brasil and the Union as well as the United States who viewed it as a potential counterbalance to growing Japanese and Spanish interest in the South Pacific and South Atlantic. In just over two years the Chilean navy had more than doubled in size. The old WWI era battleships Almirante Latorre and Almirante Cochrane had been refurbished in Brasilian shipyards to the standard of the interwar battleship, Huascar that had been scuttled at the end of the first Pacific war. They were joined by a new battleship of Chilean make as well as a pair of battleships from Germany that were surplus to requirements and an older battle-cruiser from the American Atlantic fleet. These, however, had not been refurbished and were significantly less effective than their Japanese counterparts. The centerpiece of Chile's new model navy, however, was a number of aircraft carriers, two of which - the Almirante Frodden and the Espíritu de América - were among the very small number of purposely built carriers in the world. The former had been built in Chile while the latter was a gift from the United States and shared the design of their Columbus Class carriers. The remainder of Chile's five strong carrier fleet, however, consisted primarily of converted freighters that struggled to keep up with the rest of the fleet.
In January 1926 Admiral Frodden and Commodore Nimitz drew up their plan for the resumption of hostilities against Japan, In exchange for Chilean assistance the US agreed to place heavy diplomatic and economic pressure on Spain in order to force an end to the war in Argentina. The resumption of hostilities between the Pacific powers was primarily sparked by the discovery of valuable minerals in the Japanese control Islands which the Empire denied to the Americans. The Chileans and Americans were further frightened at the prospect of an alliance between Japan in the east and Spain in the west, forcing the Chileans in particular into a two-front war they would hardly afford to fight. It was hoped by both powers that a short decisive conflict, begun with a strike at Kure Naval base would allow them to refocus their efforts elsewhere before their many external rivals found common ground.
Unlike last time at Vladivostok nothing was left to chance with the attack on Kure, with almost the entire fleet assembled for the Imperial Naval Review and with only a token Carrier battle squadron stationed out on the Russian coast the Americans and Chileans were certain that they could take the Japanese by surprise and knock out the majority of the fleet in one go. An approach by sea as had been the case at Vladivostok was briefly considered before being ruled out as to susceptible to attack by Japan's land-based aircraft. Admiral Hoover urged the planning committee to construct a plan that made heavy use of submarines but both Admiral Frodden and Commodore Nimitz were wary in placing such an important operation in the hands of captains who had almost no combat experience and submarines that were widely recognised as being inferior to the countermeasures employed by Japan. Instead the strike would be conducted by the combined carrier forces of both Chile and the United States, the five Chilean carriers were joined by three American and between them mustered nearly four hundred planes.
The first wave of aircraft left the Carriers early in the morning of the 5th of February and began the 2nd Pacific War, They took the patrolling Japanese fighter squadron by surprise, knocking it out in a dogfight before preceding to begin their runs against the Japanese ships. By the time the first wave had returned to the carriers nearly three quarters of the Japanese navies heavy capital ships were at the bottom of Kure Harbor. Frodden wished to call off the raid at this point, frightened that land based aircraft or the remaining Japanese carriers and submarines would have followed the returning strike planes back to the carriers and strike against the Allied fleets. Nimitz on the other hand decided to chance the fleet by launching another attack wave against the ports infrastructure, reluctantly Frodden agreed. Although the second strike wave met heavy resistance from the Imperial Air Force a number of planes broke through the patrols and were able to destroy the majority of the ports infrastructure.
The Japanese did, however, launch a counter strike against the American and Chilean forces launching an air strike from their own carriers stationed off the coast of Russia as well as a number of land bases. With the majority of the American planes either refueling or in the process of landing the Japanese were able to strike at the American carriers with little opposition. Furthermore, the 1st Submarine Flotilla was able to sneak past the American and Chilean screening ships and sink a pair of capital ships including the US carrier USS Christopher Columbus and the Chilean Battleship Santiago. With a number of the carriers heavily damaged by the Japanese strike planes and the submarines Nimitz called off his planned third wave and ordered the ships to retreat to Midway, beyond the range of the submarines and the strike planes from the Japanese mainland.
The loss of the Japanese main fleet and its largest naval base at Kure placed a severe limit on the ability of the Japanese to defend their outer islands, with only limited land based resources it would be difficult even to defend Taiwan and Okinawa, let alone territories farther afield in the Philippines and the mid-Pacific. At the end of February 1926 the once mighty Imperial navy had been reduced to a pair of carriers from the Russian Intervention that had formed the core of the Northern Fleet and the dreadnought battleship Satsuma (technically a semi-dreadnought) as well as their attendant screening squadrons and a number of the Submarine flotilla's and a pair of heavy submarines that doubled as seaplane tenders. This paled besides the significantly larger American and Chilean fleets, the Japanese responded by massively stepping up production of the three capital ships currently under construction, two of which were carriers. Furthermore, it was in no way the interests of either the Spanish or the Union for America or Chile to achieve dominance in the Pacific ahead of Japan. The Union agreed to sell three of its half constructed carriers to the Japanese, although at this point the Admiralty, despite the results of the Pacific War viewed carriers as surplus to requirements and was happy to sell them on to the Japanese. Furthermore with Japan's major shipbuilding firms already engaged with dealing from the mess from the first world and Pacific wars the Union and the Spanish allowed Japan to lay down orders with their own shipyards for a variety of purposes.
Capture of Manila
With the defeat of the Imperial navy at Kure the Japanese were firmly on the back foot. The next step for the American's and Chile was to retake the Philippines, Manila had nearly fallen to the Chilean's in the first Pacific War and the second attack on the city and coastal area was a key part of the American war plan. Several waves of Chilean and American strike planes knocked out the cities exterior defenses, allowing the American marines and their transports as well as the accompanying battleships to approach the city without being shelled by the shore batteries. Despite this a number of Japanese aircraft did conduct raids against the American fleet. Nonetheless despite the efforts of the Imperial Navy and Air Force a large number of American troops and equipment landed and occupied the shore batteries and airport.
Nonetheless the Americans were unable to take the city of Manila itself, the Japanese and their Filipino allies could muster an army of nearly a hundred and fifty thousand men under the command of General Togo. The Americans and the Chileans had an army of a hundred thousand marines and twenty thousand Filipino auxiliaries who had remained loyal to the former regime under the command of the Filipino General Aguinaldo. The American assault on the city began on the morning of the 10th May with an attack spearheaded by two divisions of tanks and cavalry under supporting fire from American warships and artillery with combat air support supplied by American strike craft from their carriers.
The Japanese, however, were able to hold the city by embedding their forces into fortifications and houses, the Chileans and Americans struggled to overcome the heavy Japanese defenses, particularly given that they still struggled to overcome CAS from the various Philippine air bases. As a result Imperial troops were able to hold the city against overwhelming odds. Nonetheless the Americans and Chileans had a major advantage in their ability to supply their forces on the island. In response to the inability of the Marines to take the city, even with their fire support the Americans dispatched a second task force under the command of General MacArthur. MacArthur began by ordering almost constant bombardment of the city by American battleships and aircraft before ordering his troops into the city. Togo decided to retreat from the city into the rest of the Islands in the hope that he might be able to hold on and be reinforced by troops from the Japanese home Islands.
Philippines Land Campaign
Re-inforcements turned out not to be forthcoming however, While Togo's existing forces and any auxiliaries he recruited could be kept in supply through Spanish and Union transports it remained impossible, so long as the Americans had such a large majority in combat ships for Imperial troop transports to reinforce Togo. Reluctantly Togo began the mass recruitment of Filipino's into his army with the promise of self rule for the Philippines in the event of a Japanese victory. Togo himself was not a fan of allowing Filipinos equal status with the Japanese but allowed them to join his army in order to better fight the Americans.
By hiding in the Jungles and basing themselves off the coast the Japanese were able to fight a counter offensive against the Americans, To begin with the Japanese were driven back by the Americans under MacArthur out of the cities and into the Jungle, cutting the Japanese off from their supply lines. With the loss of Luzon the Japanese had initially held onto the outlying islands before being forced slowly back towards Mindanao. The loss of the city of Davao had left Togo's forces without reinforcements forcing him to take decisive action for the first time. Striking under the cover of night and relying almost exclusively on his Auxiliaries Togo's men launched an attack on Cebu, the largest port in the Philippines and one of the most pro-Japanese areas. The recapture of Cebu by Imperial forces allowed the resumption of supply shipments from the Spanish, even more important that that was the capture of a number of ships in the port, amongst them a US transport ship, captured along with a brigade of Marines as well as a number of supply ships with new American Tanks destined for MacArthur's forces.
This gave Togo his idea for the Japanese counter offensive, first to recapture Leyte and Mindanao and prevent American reinforcements and then to recapture Manila and drive the Americans back to their bases in the mid Pacific given that the Union and the Spanish still denied the Americans and Chileans access to their supply bases in the Pacific. Prior to the second Pacific War it had been generally accepted that while tanks had their uses in open combat they were useless in Urban and Jungle environments. Togo despite his men's inexperience with their mix of Japanese and American tanks decided to launch a major armoured offensive against the Americans. Aware that he lacked the resources to launch a major armoured offensive more than once Togo decided to begin by launching amphibious assaults against the various Islands. MacArthur found his troops being drawn away by Japanese and Filipino raids and then being surrounded and outnumbered by Filipino troops.
By the middle of 1927, over a year since the Americans had first landed on the Philippines the Imperial troops had recaptured the vast majority of the Philippines, only Luzon remained untouched by Japan and it became where MacArthur found his troops were based. Togo decided that Luzon, as the most metropolitan of the islands would be the place where his tanks would finally be used. MacArthur, never a fan of armoured vehicles had little effective counter to the Japanese tanks. At a huge cost in life on both sides Togo's forces were able to surround Manila and drive the Americans out of the city, particularly once Togo's forces had recaptured the shore batteries and airfields. Although it had come at great cost in Japanese life the long campaign in the Philippines had kept the Americans occupied from attempting to take Okinawa or more important Japanese islands. Furthermore it allowed the Japanese time to reinforce their navy and to plan for a proper counter-attack against the US navy. At the end of 1927 the Japanese navy had increased from the three capital ships it had had at the beginning of 1926 to sixteen, all but two of which were carriers. In addition to the existing Northern Fleet ships the Imperial navy had been reinforced by three Ark Royal class carriers from the UK, two Taiho class carriers from Japanese shipyards and two from yards in the Union as well as a Yamato class battleship and five converted carriers built in yards in Spain and Japan from pre-dreadnought battleships retrofitted with new armour and engines.
Battle of Midway
With, for the first time since the beginning of the second Pacific War a navy capable of taking on the Americans and Chileans Admiral Yamamoto decided to go on the offensive against the Americans. With the return of Japanese control to the Philippines the Americans had only one major replenishment base after Pearl Harbor at Midway Island. Midway provided the Americans and Chileans with air cover across the entire northern Pacific, even if there were no ships stationed their control of midway made it almost impossible for the Japanese to launch an assault on Hawaii and the west coast. This time round Yamamoto was determined to ensure that the Americans were well and truly defeated which inevitably had to mean an amphibious assault on either Hawaii or the West Coast.
With midway preventing this Yamamato decided to use his assault on the island as a trap to hopefully catch one of his opponents off guard. Equally of importance to Yamamoto as the capture of Midway was the opponent he helped to catch off guard. The nearest force capable of defending Midway was that off the Chilean Admiral Frodden commanding the Chilean Northern Fleet consisting of four carriers and three battleships as well as attending ships, the bulk of Chiles considerable naval forces. While in theory Yamamoto had a two to one superiority in numbers he could not in fact risk all of his fleet in taking the Island. Yamamoto's stike force consisted of the three Ark Royal Class carriers as well as two Taiho Class carriers and the battleship Yamato. For Yamamoto the defeat of Frodden's Northern Fleet would have a dual significance, firstly the Northern Fleet represented the largest concentration of aircraft carriers outside of Yamamoto's own fleet and secondly Yamamoto believed that Frodden was the most dangerous of his opponents, being one of the only ones capable of taking him on.
Yamamoto decided that a feint by the Yamamto, the Taiho and a number of cruisers as well as the main force approaching Midway would force Frodden to split his fleet and make it easier to tackle. In February 1928, nearly a year after the war had begun the Imperial fleet made its move, Frodden realising that the southern attack was serious enough that even if it was a faint it could severely damage the American bases in Hawaii dispatched his three battleships after the squadron suspecting that Yamamoto had no more than one battleship with his fleet and that taking it out might allow him to attack the larger Carrier fleet without having to worry about the Japanese battleships. The Chilean carriers, however, would head north to see off any attack on Midway. At 08:00 on February the 20th a scouting flight from the Chilean battleships discovered the Taisho and her escorts sailing east, just six miles north of the Chilean ships. Frodden's ships closed with the Japanese, using their higher speed to gain on the Japanese ships. A strike force from the Taisho failed to cause major damage, fouling the propeller on the light cruiser Bolivar but causing little other damage. At 09:00 the Chilean battleships came within sighting distance of the Taiho and the Yamato and engaged. The Taisho's strike planes had launched a second raid that knocked out the rudder on one of the Chilean battleships. The Taisho, however, was then hit with a number of shells, one of which hit the magazine, destroying the carrier. The Yamato and the escort ships put up a good fight, destroying the Almirante Latorre and Almirante Cochrane before being destroyed themselves. The remaining Chilean ships, including the battleship Canciller de Hierro then turned north, hoping to join the battle around midway.
A flight of scout planes from Yamamoto's carriers encountered the Chilean carriers at 13:00 hours on February the 21st and after they returned three-quarters of an hour later Yamamoto ordered his ships into the wind to launch a strike force against the Chilean ships. The first strike force sunk one Chilean carrier, the Captain Prat and damaged the engines on the Jose Carrera as well as a pair of destroyers. The Chileans returning strike force was equally deadly, the other Taiho class carrier, the Hiyo sank after a dive bomber blew up the magazine. The Second Japanese wave, consisting mostly of Torpedo bombers had the best luck of any strike force during the battle, sinking two more Chilean carriers, the already damaged Captain Prat and the Espíritu de América, Frodden decided to retreat ordering his last Carrier, the Almirante Frodden and the various escorts waiting only to recover as many planes as he could from his own second strike force. Although Frodden didn't know, however, that his second wave had succeeded in knocking out the Ark Royal class carrier Kaga. It is likely that had Frodden held out for the Canciller de Hierro to arrive a striking force based around his battleship and cruisers could have taken out the Japanese fleet. Yamamoto now pressed the assault, taking the island by the end of the day on the 23rd February. The last casualty from the battle was the Chilean battleship Canciller de Hierro which was lost when a Japanese submarine stumbled upon it and loosed a brace of torpedoes. While Frodden still lived and there remained a pair of Chilean carriers in the Pacific the Chilean government had become understandably nervous about engaging the Japanese in open combat.
With Midway in Japanese hands and with only the rump American Pacific fleet left between Japan and victory Yamamoto had decided to allow his men and ships time off with the Japanese fleet returning to Vladivostok and the Philippines, with the defense of the Japanese home islands resting on the Imperial Fleet Air Arm. In the summer of 1928 Yamamoto decided to go on the offensive once more, this time with the target of doing what had been impossible at the end of the first Pacific War the capture and destruction of the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. Having lost three carriers at Midway, as well as the only battleship worthy of the name in the Japanese fleet Yamamoto decided to take a more cautious approach with Pearl Harbor. Somewhat ironically the model for Yamamoto's attack on Pearl Harbor was the American attacks on Vladivostok and Kure. However, Yamamoto was aware that regrettably there was no way of attacking both the American carriers and battleships all in one place without risking his own ships. Nonetheless the American battleships would be stationed at Pearl Harbor and given that the American's only had a small carrier fleet and with the exception of Commodore Nimitz had little experience with commanding carrier task forces it seemed likely that the loss of the American battleships would have a major impact on their ability to effectively fight against the Japanese.
Yamamoto formed his six remaining fleet carriers, two each of the Ark Royal, Taiho and Akagi classes into striking force one with his smaller converted carriers into striking force two with a third battle group consisting of the battleship Satsuma and a number of heavy cruisers as well as the battle cruiser Ise that had been re-floated from Kure, Yamamoto had no intentions of sending the third group into combat, its main job was to protect the transport ships that were needed for the landings on Hawaii. The first wave of strike planes form strike force one arrived over Pearl Harbor on the 24th October 1928 at 04:00 hours, prior to this no one had dared to conduct carrier raids at night but Yamamoto was confident in the new radar technology that Japan had purchased from the Union as well as the ability of his pilots to land safely on their return. The first wave of strike planes took out the American planes on CAP as well as destroying the hangers in which they had been based and launching a run of torpedoes at the American air defense destroyers.
While the American crews were stumbling to their stations and the fleet assembled to move out of the harbor the first wave from striking force two arrived. This second wave was targeted at the various American ships in the harbor and was immensely successful knocking out almost every one of the nine American battleships and battle cruisers in the Harbor. By the time the third wave, this time once more from striking force one arrived almost the entirety of the American Pacific Fleet's battle-line lay at the bottom of the ocean. With the destruction of the battleships the Japanese were able to stage a landing almost unopposed and despite valiant resistance from both the Americans and the Chilean army units stationed there the island chain fell to the Japanese by the end of November, at last Yamamoto had the decisive victory he had wanted.
Battle off San Diego
After the fall of Hawaii the Chilean navy under Admiral Frodden had decided that it had no further interest in fighting a war that they could not possibly win. The civilian government reluctantly agreed and on the 6th December 1928 peace was signed between Chile and Japan, the United States. However, despite the loss of one of its major naval bases decided to continue the fight. Reluctantly Admiral Yamamoto decided to press the attack once more, aware that despite the wishes of some of Japans more militant members of society that there was little to no chance of Japan being able to take even the smallest part of the American mainland given the vast disparity in numbers. Instead Yamamoto hoped that by defeating what was left of the American Pacific fleet he would be able to convince the American's that further conflict was futile.
One man he most certainly did not have to convince of this was Commodore Chester Nimitz the second in command of the American Pacific fleet behind Admiral Hoover and widely recognised as being the architect of the the US's mostly successful raid on Kure Harbor and the capture of Guam. Along with his protege Captain U. S. Grant Sharp who would go on to command US forces in the 3rd Pacific War, Nimitz had long decided that conflict between Japan and the US had no real purpose and that the continued fighting of the war could only result in the further loss of life on the American side without any real gains. Nimitz had urged Hoover to move the remnants of the fleet back to the Atlantic in order to preserve the remnants of the Pacific fleet. On the 12th February 1929 Yamamoto decided that he had given the Americans enough time and launched his attack against the Pacific fleet in San Diego.
The initial stages of that battle were predictable, the United States Pacific Fleet now consisted of the two Christopher Columbus Class carriers and well as the Lexington and Ranger, both one of a kind carriers converted from other ships. Against that were the eleven Japanese Carriers of Yamamoto's fleet. The Ranger was sunk in the first strike wave against the American ships and the Lexington was severely damaged and listing. It was at this point that Nimitz decided that enough was enough and attempted to order a retreat. This occurred at the same time as one of Yamamoto's offers to surrender, realising that a breakout was impossible Nimitz now believed that the best chance to preserve the lives of his officers and men was to convince Hoover to surrender to Yamamoto. Despite personally traveling to Hoover's flagship, the USS Erik The Red he was unable to convince the Admiral. At that point Hoover ordered the ships out of harbor into the Japanese fleet. Nimitz decided that enough was enough and ordered the MP's to arrest Hoover, although the MP's were understandably nervous they complied after Fleet Captain Silver Cloud indicated that he agreed with Nimitz. After Hoover's arrest Nimitz offered the surrender of the American Pacific fleet in a conversation that became world famous when it was later dramatised in a film about the Pacific Wars.
".... Do I have the pleasure of talking to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy?"
"Yes, Who is this?"
"My name is Commodore Chester Nimitz, acting commander in chief United States Pacific Fleet and I have come to ask the terms of surrender of myself and those forces under my command"
"I am sure they are the same as they would be were our positions were reversed, you will surrender unconditionally, your men will be returned to their homes and your ships will be interned. And Commodore don't be ashamed of what you do here today. Were our positions reversed I would have done the same, despite what you superiors might think human lives are always worth more than the pride of politicians."
"Thank you, Admiral"
"My Name is Commodore Chester Nimitz, acting commander US Pacific Fleet, as of two thirty this afternoon a ceasefire exists between our forces and those of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Furthermore we will surrender our ships to the Japanese and return to our homes. Although many of you will feel shame at our surrender I ask you to remember, you still have your lives and your honour. You have fought bravely and well and there is no shame in surrendering to a superior foe, it has been a pleasure serving with you all"- Surrender of the US Pacific Fleet
West Coast Bombings
Despite the surrender of the US Pacific Fleet the American government continued to refuse to surrender to the Japanese, General Togo now urged Yamamoto to consider a land invasion of the United States, basing Japanese troops in Mexico and Canada in preparation for a ground assault. Yamamoto remained reluctant, however, to supply an invasion that he suspected would cost a huge amount of Japanese lives. In a compromise Togo agreed to allow Yamamoto to take action against the west coast using strike planes and paratroopers against the city of San Diego. Yamamoto launched a massive wave of strike fighters from his carriers and larger bombers from Hawaii against the city. By the end the of 1st of March the city of San Diego was in ruins, effectively burnt to the ground. Togo's paratroopers then landed in the city limits and captured what was left of San Diego. At the capture of the largest city on the west coast the American government decided to finally enter peace negotiations with the Japanese, signing a treaty in which they ceded the Philippines, Midway and Hawaii to Japan permanently.
The second Pacific War cemented Japan's position as the largest power in the Pacific, supplanting the United States and the Union as the largest naval power. Furthermore the Japanese were successfully able to construct a naval forces that allowed them the ability to interfere across the Pacific. The United States had lost the majority of its navy and a new powerful isolationist trend emerged. It had after all been the interventionist tenancies of a number of politicians that had dragged America into the conflict across the Pacific anyway. For the all of the individuals involved in commanding the various fleets however, the second Pacific War marked the beginning of a long and prosperous career that somewhat ironicly ended with them all spending their last days in Yamamoto's family retreat in Japan. Frodden went on to become president of Chile in the 1940's having commanded the Chilean navy through the second world war before being deposed by a Francoist coup in the 1950's and spending his last days in exile in Japan. Alongside Yamamoto Nimitz became Supreme Allied Naval Commander Pacific during the second world war but during the 1960's was driven out of the country for being in favour of reconciliation with Japan, eventually joining Frodden in exile. The Second world war interrupted whatever moves there might have been in the United States towards another war, forcing the two to be erstwhile allies, by the time the third war did come about Japan had long assumed peace to have been made with the US.
Third Pacific War
In the intervening period between the end of the second world war and the beginning of the third Pacific War Japan and the United States had come to a relative period of peace, despite continuing tensions over the control of the Pacific Islands the growth of Nuclear deterrence and international trade had forced an uneasy peace. The United States had slipped into isolationism and despite the rise in an interventionist movement lead by men like Nixon and Chief Silver Cloud had remained against further conflict with Japan, in part due to the efforts of the five term secretary of the navy Admiral Chester Nimitz. In the 1964 elections, however, the nativists had taken control of the senate and the house of representatives and used their influence to replace Nimitz, who they viewed as the major block on any military actions against Japan.
Nimitz's removal and replacement by Admiral Hallsy opened up the possibility of conflict between Japan and the United States once more and towards the beginning of 1965 Congress ordered the Navy department to formulate a plan of action against the Japanese that would return control of Hawaii and the Philippines to the US. Although the Japanese were probably aware of the possibility of the Americans once more attacking their forward bases and indeed the Imperial Navy had a number of plans for the possibility. The simple truth, however, was that the Imperial navy had become lazy, twenty five years of peace generally and thirty five with the USA had left the Imperial navy complacent. No one had even considered the prospect that the naval base at Pearl Harbor, one of the best defended in the world would be vulnerable to sneak attacks from the United States Navy. Nonetheless the Americans decided to act once more and finally force a conclusion to the tensions between Japan and the United States. Being deliberately sneaky the Americans had ordered the majority of the Pacific fleet south to deter Spanish actions in South America where it had intervened in 1964 to prevent Chile and Spain from reinforcing Spanish troops in Argentina.
With Japanese intelligence having shifted southwards the Americans began their assault late at night on the 23rd of October. Using refueling planes and going at low levels to avoid detection the Americans knew that they had only one shot at knocking out the Japanese ships. By avoiding radar detection and by striking from the American mainland the American planes caught the Japanese off guard and were able to sink three of the four Japanese super carriers stationed in Pearl Harbor although the other capital ships including five fleet carriers of the Midway class were untouched. In fitting with Japanese defensive doctrine the Japanese immediately pulled back to Midway, hoping to use it as a forward defensive position while maintaining armed forces on the Hawaiian islands.
Capture of Hawaii
Despite the loss of the majority of the Japanese fleet at Pearl Harbor there remained a large force of Japanese infantry and armour on the island chain. Furthermore, alongside the substantial Japanese army forces on the Islands there was a substantial presence by the Imperial Fleet Air Arm which had been unable to totally evacuate its forces from the Island and there remained a large number of squadrons that remained on the Island. As such it would require a massive investment of men and equipment by the united states to take back the Islands. The Americans however were more than willing to spend the investment to regain the Islands from the Japanese. Before the Americans could even dream of landing troops on the island however they had to take out the Japanese air forces on the Islands, they had been met with an unpleasant result when they had attempted to land a force without tackling the air base a number of American transports had been sunk.
The American carrier fleet launched wave after wave of aircraft against the Japanese, the large concentration of American ships kept the Japanese fleet at bay but nonetheless the Japanese were able to keep their forces supplied through judicious use of ships flying under the Union and Spanish flag, the mere presence of which made the Americans reluctant to act against the ships. Furthermore despite the large American air presence the Japanese were further able to supply their forces through low flying aircraft operating at night. Despite the large presence of Japanese air and coastal defense forces the Americans were able to land a massive task force consisting of three hundred thousand men under the command of General White River.
Over the course of the next four months the Japanese found themselves under constant pressure by the American forces, step by step they pushed of the Island. Unlike the Philippines where General Togo had been able to recruit extra men into his army the Japanese army on the Hawaiian islands was unable to do so because the the Hawaiian populace had always resented the occupying Japanese forces. With Japanese troops cut of from reinforcements, and after the Americans had captured Pearl Harbor from supplies as well the defeat of the two hundred thousand Japanese became inevitable. Despite the efforts of the forces on the islands, by the end January 1966 only ninety thousand Japanese remained, a month later the very last Japanese forces were evacuated in the dead of night by a number of helicopters from the 1st Air Fleet. Hawaii belonged once more to the United States.
The loss of Pearl Harbor left the naval base at Midway Japans last bastion of naval power in the mid-pacific, For the United States to continue its advance against Japan midway had to fall into American hands. The American Pacific Fleet was still outnumbered by its Japanese counterparts but the success of the American strikes against Pearl Harbor had forced the Japanese to split their carrier forces, at least in part in fear of the Chilean Navy that despite being under the command of the Francoist regime in Santiago still had desires on control of the south pacific whether under Francoist or democratic rule.
The Northern Fleet of the Japanese Navy based around the Midway Island installation consisted of two supercarriers, two fleet carriers of the Taiho class and four of the Midway class as well as the battleship Yamato and their varied escort ships. Although the Americans had to hold at least a squadron at Pearl Harbor to ensure that the Japanese Southern fleet didn’t capture the port. Furthermore although the Brasilian Imperial Navy was mostly involved with holding off the Spanish in South America they did spare two squadrons to help the Americans hold Pearl Harbor. For the United States to have any hope of achieving a victory over the Japanese they had to have control of Midway Island else the Japanese would be able to continue to stage attacks through long range aircraft against the American west coast. Midway though was exceedingly well defended, as well as the Northern Fleet the Air base on the Island had often been described as an unsinkable aircraft carrier and was home to over ten squadrons of strike fighters as well as four squadrons of long range naval bombers. Unlike the Japanese in the second Pacific war the Americans couldn’t risk splitting their fleet to draw the Japanese away from the Island not least because the Japanese had no island possessions the Americans could strike at without risking the Japanese southern fleet joining up with the Northern fleet and outnumbering the American Pacific fleet.
Marshaling the Pacific Fleet Admiral Sharp decided to launch a full on assault against the the Japanese using similar tactics as he had against Pearl Harbor, by using low flying aircraft he hoped to knock out the Japanese air base Sharp hoped that he would be able to attack the Japanese navy without having to worry about the Midway airplanes. Flying at the very edge of their range a number of Brazilian and American bombers were able to sneak under the outer Japanese radar stations but luck was not with the Americans, a Japanese supply plane with an escort of Avro Arrow fighters encountered the American squadrons as they were leaving the Island. The Alarm was sounded and the Japanese squadrons scrambled, In a decidedly one sided engagement the Japanese demonstrated that their fighter pilots remained the best in the World taking out almost all of the American squadrons.
Sharp decided to press ahead with the assault anyway, hopeful that the American advantage in numbers would allow his aircraft to knock out enough Japanese ships to force them away from the Island. Now aware that the Americans planned an attack against the Island Admiral Sugimoto recalled the fleets forward ships and sent a signal to the 13th Submarine Flotilla based at Wake hoping that he might be able to catch the American fleet as it traveled to the Islands. Sugimoto ordered a constant CAP from his carriers and the Island and Launched a scouting squadron to look out for the American fleet. On March the 7th at 5am an American scout squadron overflew the Japanese fleet and Sharp launched his first strike against the Japanese, despite heavy fighting by the Japanese and Flak from the escort ships enough American strike fighters got through to place a Mk 22 bomb through the flight deck of the Midway class Carrier Guam and a torpedo through the side of a supercarrier, the Honshu. A Japanese counter attack consisting of strike fighters from Midway and the two Taiho class ships sunk the American supercarrier Iroquois. This attack however was a smokescreen to cover for Sugimoto who had decided to retreat to the Philippines immediately rather than risk the loss of ships that a protracted fight would involve. To do this however he had had to make the decision to leave behind at least some force to hold of the Americans. The two Taiho class ships, rebuilds from the second Pacific War were also limited in their speed. While most of the fleet could make 34 Knots the Taiho’s were limited to 28 and would be a liability in escaping from the Americans as such Sugimoto ordered them to be left behind with a volunteer crew to distract the Americans.
Sharp was unaware of the deception, thinking the Sugimoto had split the Carriers in a flanking maneuver. He continued to launch strikes against Midway and the two Taiho’s, launching wave after wave of attack planes. Sharp was successful but the attacks from Midway Island and the 13th Submarine flotilla sunk two of the Baton Rouge class fleet carriers in his fleet. Initially the battle was a success for the Japanese, Sugimoto having lost two fleet carriers with Sharp having lost the same along with a super carrier. As the Japanese fleet was retreating however disaster struck the Japanese fleet. American submarines were able to hit the supercarrier Hokkaido and three fleet Carriers of the Midway class. Although they were unable to sink the ships they were able to damage the steering of the Hokkaido, the Midway and the Wake. Sugimoto was forced to leave those ships behind and they were sunk by attack planes from the American ships.
Battle of Manila Bay
With Sugimoto’s fleet having withdrawn to the Philippines the Americans were free to press the attack. With the Northern fleet now outnumbered severely by the American Pacific Fleet Japanese High Command ordered the Southern Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Toshio Abe to return to the Philippines in order to support Sugimoto in the defense of the Philippines. Sharp knew just as well as Sugimoto and his superiors that control of the Philippines would determine who would control the Pacific. The Japanese had invested considerable time money and effort in making the Philippines part of Japan and the American public retained a strong attachment to the Islands. Defeat in the Philippines would force the Japanese to make peace with the United States and reconsider its dominance of the Pacific. The combined Japanese fleet numbered six supercarriers, three from the southern fleet, two from the Northern fleet and the newly built Okinawa as well as fourteen Fleet carriers of the Midway, Taiho and Akagi classes. Backing up the Japanese ships was the two air bases on the Philippines from which the Japanese Air Force could launch attacks. Sharp’s fleet still outnumbered the Combined fleet but only just and the Admiral was aware that the air bases on the Philippines might give the Japanese a decisive advantage. Sharp knew he couldn’t afford to wait for re-inforcements from the Atlantic fleet, not least because the Atlantic Fleet was still involved in fighting of the Spanish in South America. Furthermore the Japanese still had one supercarrier and three fleet carriers on the production line in Japan and ready to come into service within the next few months. While the shipyards in San Diego did also have a number of ships under way in the yard the only one of any note to enter service soon was the USS St Clair, a heavy cruiser. The next supercarrier, the USS Dakota, was still two months from being launched, let alone being fitted out and ready for combat.
Sharp also had six supercarriers but the Pacific fleet had eighteen fleet carriers to the Japanese fourteen as well as what Sharp hoped would be his deciding factor, the 1st and 2nd Battleship squadrons. The Japanese had completely removed any Big-Gun ships from production after the second Pacific war and had only one Battleship in the combined fleet, the Yamato, furthermore the Yamato had been converted to what Admiral Steele of the Union had described as a very large floating missile platform. The Yamato didn’t even carry ammunition for its three banks of 14’ guns the batteries instead having been converted to fire missiles from their tubes. This tied in well with the Japanese strategy of attacking at range but Sharp hoped would mean that the Japanese were vulnerable to combat a closer ranges, within one or two miles where the faster firing rate of his ships would give him an advantage over the Japanese.
On April the 2nd a squadron of planes from the Sioux found the Japanese fleet in and around Manila Bay, the site of numerous Japanese and American battles against each other and Spain. Sharp decided to launch his planes at the Japanese fleet, hoping to distract them while his battleships closed on the Japanese. This was not to pay off, the 12th Submarine flotilla came across the battleships and their escorts on a routine patrol of the Pacific, Although the flotilla’s commander, Commodore Naguma knew that he couldn’t risk attacking the squadrons, particularly with the large ASW complement present abroad the destroyers he decided to risk launching a sensor bouy to alert Sugimoto. Aware that his ships were vulnerable to attack by other surface ships Sugimoto launched a strike against the American battleship squadrons which had little effective air cover, The Japanese strike fighters were successful in their attack, decimating the American battleship squadrons and leaving that threat removed.
Sharp decided to press ahead regardless, launching his squadrons against the Japanese ships. This was more successful, the supercarrier Ezo and the fleet carrier Akagi took heavy damage, putting their flight decks out of action. The Japanese counter strike showed the strength of the Philippines based squadrons, while carrier based planes were heavily limited in the ord nance they could carry the Mitsobishi naval bombers on the Philippines could carry heavier torpedoes and bombs and could even carry Japans nuclear tipped torpedoes in an emergency. Escorted by both land based Avro Arrows and carrier based Raidans the Mitsobishi bombers landed a series of devastating blows on the American ships, sinking the Sioux and the Huron supercarriers and the Louisiana and Robespiere fleet carriers. Aware of the dangers of losing more ships Sharp signaled a retreat. The Japanese had the victory that they needed and public support swung back in favor of the war.
Nuclear Crisis and Mediation
The Japanese combined fleet was ordered to Midway via Guam with Sugimoto deciding to attack in late 1966. Sugimoto had finally received permission to use the Mk-14 Kami no raitoningu torpedoes. As an open declaration a submarine from the 6th Flotilla sunk the supercarrier Apache with one of the Nuclear torpedoes. In response the United States launched a nuclear strike against the Japanese naval base on Iwo Jima. At this point the Union decided that enough was enough, The Anglo-Dutch had tolerated the infighting between their two allies up until this point but now decided to unilaterally impose a ceasefire on the two nations. The Union Pacific Fleet, consisting of eight supercarriers and escorts was ordered to attack any military ships that left their harbors. The Japanese agreed to the ceasefire and ordered the combined fleet to stand down. Initially so to did the Americans and negotiations began between the two powers.
The Ceasefire was not to last however, the Union’s fleet was drawn away in a standoff with the Spanish in the South Pacific and the Americans decided to launch an attack against the Japanese at Guam before the fleet could head for Midway. Sharp’s Pacific Fleet was now joined by the USS Dakota and the USS Cherokee and USS Apache from the Atlantic Fleet. Furthermore, much like Sugimoto Sharp had received permission from the US High Command for use of tactical nuclear weapons, the Mk-15 Red Cloud torpedo and the Mk-22 Widowmaker free fall bomb. The American and Japanese fleets met for the final time of the third pacific war in December 1966. The battle began with a scout squadron from Sugimoto’s combined fleet overflying the American carriers at 5AM on December the 12th. The following air strike severely damaged the Dakota’s flight deck putting it out of action for the rest of the battle, The American counter-strike sunk one supercarrier, the Iwo Jima and two fleet carriers. At this point Sugimoto authorised his strike fighters to use tactical nuclear weapons, This was highly successful sinking the Apache and the Dakota but in response Sharp launched a counter strike with the American tactical nuclear weapons. The loss of another two supercarriers in the Japanese fleet caused Sugimoto to order a retreat back to the Philippines. Without a fleet capable of taking on the Americans the Imperial high command decided to launch a nuclear strike against the west coast.
At this point the Union stepped in once more, once informed by its spies that the Japanese were planning to attack the US west coast the Union ordered the Pacific fleet back into the Pacific and threatened the Japanese with an economic embargo if they launched their ICBM’s. The Union provided mediation between the two powers and eventually in January 1967 an agreement was reached between them, Japan bowed to the reality on the ground and surendered control of the Hawaiian Islands. Nonetheless Japan retained control of Midway and the Philippines and although the Japanese had been humbled by the Americans they remained a major player in the Pacific.
End of the War
At the end of the Third Pacific War Japan and the USA remained in the same effective position as they had at the end of the first. Japan remained the dominant power in the Pacific with the USA as the challenger, the Japanese combined fleet still outnumbered the American Pacific Fleet and the continuing Francoist regimes in South America demanded that the Atlantic fleet remain there. The Chilean navy remained an ever present threat in the South Pacific, particularly with the continuing desire of its officers to expand their influence.
Furthermore the conflict between the two powers remained as unanswered as ever, Japan had control of the Philippines and Midway but the USA retained the Hawaiian Islands. The peace between the two lasted for twenty three years. However, the two only fighting again in the Anglo-Dutch Civil War. At the end of the civil war the Japanese decided not to press for concessions from the Americans. In particular, the growth of the Chinese navy and the success of China in Korea had convinced the Imperial high command that the Pacific was no longer where their interests lay.