Appendices - Hirohito's War
APPENDIX A: SUBMARINES - THE UNDERSEA WAR
The Missed Opportunity: In reviewing the operation of Japanese submarines during the Pacific War, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that Japan missed a major opportunity. The Washington and London Naval Limitation Treaties had excluded submarines from their calculations, giving Japan the scope to develop a critical advantage in this area. In part it had done so. Technologically advanced submarines had been produced along with world-beating torpedoes, Type-93 and Type-95, which outperformed both British and American weapons in terms of payload, speed, detection, operating distance and reliability. These advantages were undone by the failure of the Japanese Navy to develop war-winning tactics for their underwater weapons.
Stuck between defensive and offensive priorities, the Imperial Japanese Navy developed a conservative, preservation oriented command strategy that negated their submarines’ devastating offensive potential. The emphasis on the overly cautious pursuit of US warships meant that Japan’s submarines never fully exploited their potential to disrupt the long supply routes from America through the Pacific Ocean. Poor strategic thinking also undermined a building program, which was too scattergun in its approach, producing technologically innovative designs without consideration of the advantages of mass production of a few types of submarine. One can only imagine how the Pacific War might have been different if Japan, instead of wasting vast resources on the outdated battleship behemoths, Musashi and Yamato, had concentrated resources instead on the mass production of long distance submarines designed to sink US commercial ships.