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Eniwetok


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The_Chieftain #1 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 05:53

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For this Hatch, I hand the keyboard over to guest author Ken Estes, LTC USMC (Ret). This week 68 years ago was the assault on Eniwetok.

Eniwetok 17-22 February 1944: USMC vs. JA tank company

The U.S. Central Pacific commanders had slated the joint assault on Eniwetok Atoll for April 1944, in wake of the seizure of Kwajalein atoll and various lesser islands to secure the Marshall Islands. However, the Kwajalein operation had succeeded well in face of no interference from the Imperial Japanese Navy, and planners saw an opportunity to advance the schedule. Accordingly, Brigadier General Thomas E. Watson's Tactical Group 1, V Amphibious Corps, was alerted to assault the three major islands of Eniwetok, Engebi and Parry in quick sequence.

Spoiler


easy8tanker #2 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 06:32

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I see that a lot. The Japanese using their tanks as pillboxes and not as...well...actual tanks. The Japanese tanks only saw actual victory in the Chinese theater. Its funny how bad their tanks were.

Here is a great website to fine some other Japanese tanks.

http://ww2drawings.j...anese-Armor.htm

the_moidart #3 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 06:33

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Last picture prominently shows off the 'shoot here' panel on the side of the M4, at least it doesn't have a big white star on it.

Funny that you first point out how bad the Japanese used their tanks then blame the tanks themselves. Sure, they were outdated tanks, but I'd more blame the aforementioned misuse.

Drakenred #4 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 09:54

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Japan realy did not have mutch choice in the matter, they needed to dig in there tanks so they would survive the initial bombing, Virutaly every US tank in service at the time could penitrate them at almost any range, along with Anti tank guns that were obsolete in Europe, never kind infantry weapons like Bazzokas and morters.

On top of that the tanks they had were often worn out or in bad shape because simply suplying the tanks they did have was a logistics nightmare due to the total lack of shiping that they started with compounded by the continued losses of shiping as the war went on.

(never mind that the Japanise Army insisted on maintaining its own logistics fleet, then turned around and lied to the Japanise navy about there own fleets losses, even when the Japanise navy knew about it, sutch as the loss of Shinshu Maru)

http://en.wikipedia....er_Shinshu_Maru

http://www3.plala.or...Tokushusen.html

Bascialy the ship was an aircraft ferry for the most part, but could have been used as a (limmited) CVE and or troop landing ship  

http://en.wikipedia....iki/Kumano_Maru another conversion psudo carrier/troop transport

StrohsVonPabst #5 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 10:18

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Thank you very kindly for considering this little battle.It may not have been on an epic scale but,for the small number(relatively)of people involved,it was a slug-fest.A little known corner of Hell too often overshadowed/overlooked.Cordially~S.V.P.

Belesarius #6 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 12:44

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Neat article. Thanks.

RolandVH #7 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 13:54

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Could this be a hint that Japanese tanks are going to be in development soon?

Viggen #8 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 14:03

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Nice little writeup, thanks.

Atillius #9 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 15:36

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Nice to see someone write up about the little known use of armor in WW2 PTO.  There weren't many times that tanks v. tanks happened, being that its was mostly an Infantry slug fest, the times it did happen are good reads.  Since Tarawa in Nov.  1943, USMC commanders chose to not land armor with the initial waves; since they lost all of their armor fielded in that battle and it was a logistical nightmare and huge gamble to put an LST in close before a beachhead was established, and it came with follow on forces, but mostly as Flame Tanks and CE tanks with 105mm guns for bunker reduction.  I liked the part about the hand-me-down tanks the USMC had too, typical Marine Corps fashion for many many years, until recent.  I bet they didn't even have replacement parts for those tanks either!

Semper Fi!

minim8greyhound #10 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 16:00

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Good read!  :)

Were the tankers of the 2d Separate Tank Company predominantly white Americans or were they part Japanese or etc.? :rolleyes:

Just wondering....

Chopa #11 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 17:08

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minim8greyhound, on Feb 22 2012 - 16:00, said:

Good read!  :)

Were the tankers of the 2d Separate Tank Company predominantly white Americans or were they part Japanese or etc.? :rolleyes:

Just wondering....

  I think you'll find that most Nisei (Japanese-American. Literally "Second Generation") units served in the ETO, primarily Italy.

"Japanese Americans were generally forbidden to fight a combat role in the Pacific theatre; although no such limitations were placed on Americans of German or Italian ancestry who fought against the Axis Powers. Up to this point, the United States government has only been able to find records of five Japanese Americans who were members of the Air Corps during World War II, one of them being Kenje Ogata. There was at least one Nisei, U.S. Army Air Force Technical Sergeant Ben Kuroki, who participated in 28 bombing missions over mainland Japan and other locations."

Although many served in PTO in support roles such as interpreters, intel, etc. due to language and cultural familiarity.

I dont recall there being ANY Nisei armoured formations although there was an arty Bn.

Drakenred #12 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 19:26

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McGilly, on Feb 22 2012 - 15:54, said:

"On 4 January, the Japanese army's  1st Amphibious Brigade unloaded a detachment consisting of 2,586 troops on the three islands and belatedly began to prepare defenses in earnest. The detachment included the brigade's tank company of nine Type 95 light tanks."

In WoT, that would have been nine Type 59s vs M4s.

;)

But srsly, good article, and the animated link was really great too.

um no

http://en.wikipedia....i/Type_95_Ha-Go

Atillius #13 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 21:08

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minim8greyhound, on Feb 22 2012 - 16:00, said:

Good read!  :)

Were the tankers of the 2d Separate Tank Company predominantly white Americans or were they part Japanese or etc.? :rolleyes:

Just wondering....

The reason it was a Separate TC was because they fielded an inferior tank at first, and although they were a subordinate unit to the 2d Marine Division, they could be attached and detached where they were needed.  I believe the idea's original intent was to keep them subordinate to the Amphibious Corps and use them as needed.  

As for the USMC and racial make up.  Not may blacks were in their ranks...and those that were were assigned to support duties, usually as Ammo techs and AMTRAC carriers (btw LVT-4 would be a fun piece of armor in WoT!)  Just another dark spot in the history of the US.  The odd part was that despite all the adversity, the segregated units proved themselves...the 442d and the 332d FG and 477th BG are cherished within US military history.

Gigaton #14 Posted Feb 22 2012 - 22:06

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Was this the third time M4 Shermans were deployed in combat in Pacific, or do I remember incorrectly?

easy8tanker, on Feb 22 2012 - 06:32, said:

Its funny how bad their tanks were.

Sigh. Japan had second smallest industrial base of all major combatants, and furthermore Japanese vehicle industry had to live off the scraps of the marine and aeroplane industries. Compare Japanese wartime shipbuilding to Italian one. They aren't even on the same scale. There are plenty of anecdotal sorties of Japanese literally scavenging steel just to to finish their ships.

Japanese did produce few designs of tanks and weaponry that could be described as pre-emptive (Type 1 tank, 47mm gun) but their production was not proceeded with until later (for example, 47mm gun became desired when M3 Stuarts were encountered). Their indutrial base dictated that they could do no more than to react to what their enemy was fielding, and they never had luxury of phasing out outdated tanks. Considering that 75mm gunned Shermans only started to pop up in numbers in Pacific and CBI from '44 onwards Japan actually did pretty well in managing to put 75mm gunned tank into small scale production within a year.

Scolopax #15 Posted Feb 23 2012 - 03:21

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In the article, it says that the M4a2 sherman was used.  From what I know, the US army did not use that particular version.  Is this an error, or did the Marine Corps in fact use them?

Drakenred #16 Posted Feb 23 2012 - 03:43

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Second smallest and most reliant on imports on top of that. compouding all of this was the mutal mistrust and outright lying and blatant misstrust that their Army and Navy did and have when talking to eachother about planning and . . .

that and Japan just never did seem to understand how mutch they relied on there logistics in the first place.

that and they never did let go of realy bad ideas. ever. (see Battles of Coral Sea, Midway, Leyte Gulf being prime examples)

The_Lord_Chanka #17 Posted Feb 23 2012 - 03:58

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Based off what I know about the Japanese and tank development during WWII, all scrap metal left over and any technology they could spare from ship-building was given to tanks. Considering the size of Japan's navy, I would assume any tanks the Japanese fielded would have been vastly outgunned and outperformed by any tank fielded by any other nation. Not to mention most Japanese generals had very little experience with tank warfare and used them as bunkers and suicide charges (<--the favored Japanese battle tactic  :lol: ).

brian333 #18 Posted Feb 24 2012 - 05:02

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An often overlooked fact in all of these topics comparing tanks is that tanks were built for a specific purpose. Having a tank that could pen a King Tiger was important the the Soviets, but to the Japanese, much less so.

You see, early in the war, (long before the fall of Poland China was fighting Japan,) China had only a handful of tanks, the best of these being three F-17's and some Italian tankettes, which were captured and used by the Japanese. Later, they bought some Panzer I's from Germany, along with more tankettes and after Japan demanded Germany stop advising the Chinese they turned to the Soviet Union, purchasing 88 armored vehicles including T-26's and armored cars. They were used mostly for training, but were used in the Battle of Kunlun Pass to good effect. They were later destroyed in Burma.

So, all the way up until the Japanese faced Shermans they had little need of monster tanks. What's the point of building a Swiss Army Knife when all you need is a can-opener?

theshiyal #19 Posted Feb 24 2012 - 15:53

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The_Chieftain #20 Posted Mar 14 2012 - 21:27

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Ken asked me to post the following responses on his behalf:

Quote

Nice to see someone write up about the little known use of armor in WW2 PTO. There weren't many times that tanks v. tanks happened, being that its was mostly an Infantry slug fest, the times it did happen are good reads. Since Tarawa in Nov. 1943, USMC commanders chose to not land armor with the initial waves; since they lost all of their armor fielded in that battle and it was a logistical nightmare and huge gamble to put an LST in close before a beachhead was established, and it came with follow on forces, but mostly as Flame Tanks and CE tanks with 105mm guns for bunker reduction. I liked the part about the hand-me-down tanks the USMC had too, typical Marine Corps fashion for many many years, until recent. I bet they didn't even have replacement parts for those tanks either!


No commanders landed tanks in the first waves in the Pacific or ETO in WWII. One always wanted infantry and engineers in first, as tanks were too blind and vulnerable to close infantry assault without. At Tarawa and later opposed landings, the tanks all came un on board landing craft, the difference being that the M3s were loaded from ships’ cargo booms into the LCM-3, whereas the M4A2 of 1st Lt Bale’s C Company 1st Corps Medium Tank Battalion came off their LSD preloaded in them. The LSTs offloaded A Company, 1st Tk Bn M4A1s at Cape Gloucester, but it was unopposed. The armored amphibian, LVT(A), was created for the first wave, starting in 1944.
It remains a myth that the USMC has ever used hand-me-down tanks. The Marmon-Herringtons were new production 1935-40, as were the M2A4 and M3 light tanks received in 1940-42, M5 lights afterwards. All the WWII M4 mediums tanks were new production as well. General Marshall is noted for having said, in the dark days of 1941, “…my main battle is equipping the Marines. Whether we have anything left after the British and Marines get theirs, I do not know.” The only tanks ever acquired not off the assembly line by the USMC were its M26s (102) post-WWII [nothing in production], and the transfer of some 182 M1A1s from army stocks, 1994-99, including 48 “Common,” rest from 7th year production (i.e. without heavy armor), to minimize the necessary configuration spread of the fleet from its own 1990-91 production M1A1 Common tanks.



Quote

Were the tankers of the 2d Separate Tank Company predominantly white Americans or were they part Japanese or etc.?  

Just wondering....

As noted, very few Japanese serve in the PTO, except as interpreter-translators, etc. The tank units were the usual USMC racial mix for the period, but the only black Marines in tanks were from the all-black 51st and 52d Defense Battalions’ tank platoons, which were finally deployed without tanks as AA units to the Pacific. Lt. Ed Bale led the platoon of 51st Bn before going to 1st Corps Medium Tank Battalion. There were no black USMC officers for another decade.

Quote

The reason it was a Separate TC was because they fielded an inferior tank at first, and although they were a subordinate unit to the 2d Marine Division, they could be attached and detached where they were needed. I believe the idea's original intent was to keep them subordinate to the Amphibious Corps and use them as needed.

As for the USMC and racial make up. Not many blacks were in their ranks...and those that were were assigned to support duties, usually as Ammo techs and AMTRAC carriers (btw LVT-4 would be a fun piece of armor in WoT!) Just another dark spot in the history of the US. The odd part was that despite all the adversity, the segregated units proved themselves...the 442d and the 332d FG and 477th BG are cherished within US military history.

There was nothing inferior about the Marmon-Herrington tankettes when acquired in 1936-40, in the US at least. No other tanks were in production in 1936. The two separate tank companies came out of 1st and 2nd Tank Battalions and joined their separate regiments (3rd and 22nd Marines), sent to Samoa where they then relieved C Co 1st Tk Bn and B Co 2d Tk Bn in late 1942, so they could join their divisions in the Guadalcanal campaigns. The separates later fell into the 6th Tk Bn and fought on Okinawa after being part of 4th and 22nd Marines at the Guam assault.


Quote

Was this the third time M4 Shermans were deployed in combat in Pacific, or do I remember incorrectly?

Japanese did produce few designs of tanks and weaponry that could be described as pre-emptive (Type 1 tank, 47mm gun) but their production was not proceeded with until later (for example, 47mm gun became desired when M3 Stuarts were encountered). Their indutrial base dictated that they could do no more than to react to what their enemy was fielding, and they never had luxury of phasing out outdated tanks. Considering that 75mm gunned Shermans only started to pop up in numbers in Pacific and CBI from '44 onwards Japan actually did pretty well in managing to put 75mm gunned tank into small scale production within a year.

Almost. The previous occasions were A Co 1st Tk Bn at Cape Gloucester in the M4A1s [only ones in USMC] issued from MacArthur’s stocks in Australia, Ed Bale’s company at Tarawa, and Bob Neiman’s C Company 4th Tk Bn at Roi-Namur. After Tarawa, the divisional battalions all went to 1 medium and 2 light companies [1st Corps Medium Tank Bn disbanded in 15Feb44], then to all mediums after April 1944.
The Japanese army 37mm AT gun was lethal vs. the US light tanks. The Type 95 Ha-Go tank gun was effective, but at closer range.


Quote

In the article, it says that the M4a2 sherman was used. From what I know, the US army did not use that particular version. Is this an error, or did the Marine Corps in fact use them?

The Army Ground Forces determined in 1942 that all vehicles sent overseas would be gasoline powered in order to simplify logistics. The M10 TD somehow escaped this proviso. The upshot was that the USMC could get delivery of the diesel M4A2 months before any M4A1, A3 or A4, because only the Russians were taking them. They were very much liked by USMC tankers: less fire hazard, and twin diesels gave a ‘limp home’ capability if you took a shot or a magnetic mine attack on one side of the engine compartment. There was a near mutiny by the first four Bn cdrs when they had to give them up in late 1944, because the army was not applying the latest mods to the A2 line … 1st Tk Bn managed to keep theirs past V-J day, took them to China.




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