If US submarine torpedoes had worked better early in WW2 could it have shortened the war?

Submarines of every nation and era.

If US submarine torpedoes had worked better early in WW2 could it have shortened the war?

Joined: September 3rd, 2012, 2:51 am

March 6th, 2018, 12:40 am #1

If the complaints of the US submarine captains had been addressed could the submarine's have crippled Japan earlier than historic?
A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount of "up to and including my life."
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Joined: January 14th, 2013, 4:04 pm

March 6th, 2018, 3:33 am #2

Just think about what the Japanese landing at Lingayen Gulf would have been if the torpedoes of those S boats would have worked.
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Joined: May 10th, 2013, 7:34 pm

March 9th, 2018, 5:07 pm #3

I had this same exact thought just the other day. I think one could effectively argue that the U.S. submarine war in the Pacific was probably the single most decisive campaign waged against Japan during WWII.

I guess the place to start would be if it were somehow possible to go back and accurately deduce which U.S. sub attacks were squandered because of defects in the Mark 14 and then make some sort of conjecture as to how this would have affected Japanese economic and military might.

That said I think it's important to note that unreliable torpedoes weren't the only impediment to the U.S.'s submarine operations against Japan. Younger more aggressive skippers, more modern subs, radar, senior command learning how to best wield their sub force and deciphering of Japanese communications all played a huge role in dramatically increasing the number of ships U.S. subs sank as the war went on.
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Joined: November 23rd, 2006, 11:41 pm

March 13th, 2018, 2:20 pm #4

US submarines did shorten the war - they waged the most successful submarine campaign in history with the possible exception of the UK in the Falklands war which obviously was a campaign in miniature but it kept the Argentine Navy in port for the duration once it started
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Joined: July 8th, 2007, 8:30 pm

March 19th, 2018, 6:41 pm #5

If they are more successful early on would the Japanese have been as eager to over extend themselves?
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Joined: September 3rd, 2006, 12:35 am

March 22nd, 2018, 3:07 pm #6

Hark wrote: Just think about what the Japanese landing at Lingayen Gulf would have been if the torpedoes of those S boats would have worked.
If they had their original Mark 10 torpedoes they would have been fine.
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
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Joined: January 14th, 2013, 4:04 pm

March 22nd, 2018, 3:20 pm #7

True, Viper, and if they had fired Mark 10s the Japanese landing would have been a disaster with 2/3rds the landing force drowning in the bay.  There would have been no Bataan or death march.  I'm not sure where the enemy would have got the forces needed for another try at the Philippines.  If they took them from Malaya then the invasion of NEI is put back.  If they take them out of China the Chinese advance.  

It would make an interesting counter-factual:  What if the Japanese invasion of the Philippines had failed?  What happens?
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Joined: July 8th, 2007, 8:30 pm

March 22nd, 2018, 4:00 pm #8

That does have some real potential.
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Joined: January 14th, 2013, 4:04 pm

March 22nd, 2018, 4:03 pm #9

I don't think its been done here...at least not for many years.
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Joined: January 8th, 2011, 7:36 pm

March 25th, 2018, 1:33 am #10

Viper and Hark,

I believe the Mark 10 was the only torpedo still in inventory early in WW2 that the old S class boats were capable of using.  They were not capable of using the newer Mark 14 (or Mark 18 available in 1943); their tubes were too short and they had no TDC data link.  So they were certainly using Mark 10s during the Philippine campaign in 1941-42.  Although the Mark 10 may have been more reliable than the newer but seriously flawed Mark 14, they were far from perfect.  They were slow, had limited range, a relatively small warhead, and had maintenance and reliability issues due to their age. However, they usually worked and went "boom" when they were supposed to.  So I think the lack of success for the S boats in the Philippines had more to do with tactics than torpedoes.

That said, it seems the majority of USN submarine successes during 1942 were with the old S boats and Mark 10s, most notably the sinking of the IJN heavy cruiser Kako off Kaveing on its way back from the Savo Island battle.  The commanders of the newer fleet boats tried to get the Mark 10 when they could; but the old S boats had the priority with the dwindling stockpile, so that after mid 1942 it was rare for any fleet boats to get the Mark 10.
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