All posts tagged Japan

Today we conclude this series of specific references behind the details in X-Day: Japan. These are not formal citations, as they are not all root sources and the book is not an academic volume. The use of real historical elements for X-Day: Japan serves to educate the reader about the time, add interest to the story, and honestly it just made the thing easier to write!

November 23, 1945
Jumbo air-to-ground rocket,

November 27, 1945
1st Cavalry Division,

December 3, 1945
M29 Weasel,

December 8, 1945
M26 Pershing tank next to M4 Sherman tank (models),

December 9, 1945
War Department Technical Manual TM-12-247,
Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel,

December 10, 1945
U.S. Army Center of Military History style guide,

December 11, 1945
Battle Formations – The Rifle Platoon, for NCOs (1942)

December 21, 1945
Hospitalization and evac plan for Operation Olympic,
Logistic Instructions No. 1 for the Olympic Operation, 25 July 1945
USS Sanctuary, hospital ship AH-17

December 22, 1945
Russian communists vs Chinese communists,
– Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon
Chiang Kai-shek quote on the communists vs the Japanese,

December 23, 1945
Sakura-jima and its volcanoes,

December 25, 1945
USS Hazard, minesweeper AM-240 [MUSEUM SHIP],

January 17, 1946
Radiation detection equipment,

July 18, 1945
PBY-4/5 Catalina flying boat,
Consolidated Aircraft plant in San Diego,
Consolidated Aircraft plant production and products, B-24 and PB4Y-2,

December 24, 1945
Pearl Harbor survivors, trapped under USS West Virginia,


[Tuttle and all the troops had time to kill during prolonged bouts of summer rain on Okinawa.]

People who don’t have to be outside are cooped up and getting restless. Poker games with well-worn decks are running continuously in the usual tents, campaign currency and paper IOUs moving around fluidly. No one has much stomach for setting up pranks in this depressing weather. Most write letters or sit and read in their off hours.

One well-worn bit of reading material is a copy of Yank magazine from back in June. The big cover story is a piece that directly asks the question, “How Long Will We Have to Fight the Jap War?” It’s the standard question here, and it has a lot of standard answers. Answers run from confident predictions to uncertain humor like “Golden Gate in ’48!” to more somber reflections that other soldiers don’t want to hear.

The piece in Yank gives a summary of the situation, and plenty of stats, but nothing in the way of any predictions. It ends with an admonition from the war department that however tough it gets, we have to keep up the pace or it will only get tougher. “The War Department plan calls for redeploying men from the ETO and the States so fast that the Japs will not have time to build up defenses or assemble reinforcements at spots where the Japs may figure the next invasions will come. ‘Speed is essential, for it is vitally important that we do not give the enemy time either to rest or reorganize his defenses.’”

Last I looked, there still weren’t any units from Europe in the Pacific. I suspect the boys already here will carry on with what they have for at least the next big job.

Pinup reading Yank by warbirdphotographer at deviantart.com


[For the first time Tuttle got to watch a large bomber attack form up and head off into the sunset toward Japan.]

The large Army air bases are fifteen miles from where I am near the giant naval station, but the bombers can be heard before they even get airborne. The insistent hum from thousands of cylinders in hundreds of radial engines shoves through the few gaps in the range of hills that cover Guam. The hum becomes an angry buzz as the engines rev and the 200 inch diameter propellers rip into the warm evening air, pulling the planes in close groups down parallel runways. The sound sharpens and takes focus as pairs of bombers come into view past the hills that had hidden them, slowly climbing over the water.

The evening sun warms each shiny silver bird with a fiery orange hue. I think it must look much the same when they circle back over a freshly fire-bombed city, widespread fires lighting up the sky as the injured city calls out her attackers in the sky.

The planes turn and continue climbing, moving to where they will meet bomber groups from the other islands. On each mission dozens or hundreds of planes from Guam meet a similar number from Tinian and/or Saipan. Together they pick up dozens or hundreds of fighter escorts near Iwo Jima.

The whole force moves toward Japan, where it will either split up or focus on just one large or important target. At night aiming points are found by radar. Coast line features, river junctions, and large landmarks show up well on even the most basic set. Thankfully Japanese defense radar and night fighters haven’t been very effective so far. That was a big unknown when the Army Air Force first started night bombing runs last spring, and at that time they had no option of fighter cover.


Hiroshima – Nagasaki Atomic Bombs Alternatives Illustrated in Journalistic Novel
70th Anniversary of Nuclear Weapons Use Renews Debate, X-Day: Japan Details Invasion from Ground Level

PRLog – July 10, 2015 – GREENVILLE, S.C. — Already an Amazon category best seller, X-Day: Japan will be officially relased with marketing support on July 16, 2015 – the 70th anniversary of the first atomic weapons test.

Many people have said ‘We should not have droped the bombs’. A few have asked, ‘What if we didn’t?’ Sparing nuclear attacks on Japanese cities would not a) end the war, nor b) make the atomic bombs go away. Any discussion of the debate is incomplete without mention of realistic alternatives.

X-Day: Japan follows a war correspondent across the World War Two Pacific and into the long-planned invasion of southern Japan. Other academic works and alternative histories have discussed the invasion and the politics around it. None of them have been told from a front line perspective, and none of them are supported by complete gaming of the battle.

Full of both human drama and political consequences, X-Day: Japan adds a major new facet to any discussion of the end of World War Two. Information about the book and the official preview can be found at


Supporting the launch, for a limited time the book is ON SALE for only $.99 (ebook) or $8.99 (paperback). It is available from Amazon.com and most e-book retailers.

Press review copies are available on request.

Stone Lake Press
1085 Old Clemson Hwy.
Suite E-203
Seneca, SC 29672

Shawn Mahaney, editor
sdmahaney at (project site domain given above)


[This is the preface from the book X-Day: Japan.]

Guide for the Modern Reader

The book Kyushu Diary was originally published in 1946, in which Walter F. Tuttle combined his own columns and other notes into an edited compilation. The second edition of 1952 was also by Tuttle’s own hand, with added footnotes, a map, some previously censored sections, and a post-script from the author. We are not calling this new book a 3rd edition. We have left Tuttle’s own 2nd edition of his compilation intact. X-Day: Japan starts with the second edition of Kyushu Diary and expands on it with extra features for a 21st century presentation.

The target audience of Walter F. Tuttle’s original Kyushu Diary is a newspaper reader of 1945. That person speaks a slightly different language from someone in the 21st century. That reader was persistently exposed to an argot of military affairs during six years of global war. Some of the words and concepts novel to that reader are mundane to us now, and many common phrases or jargon of that fast-changing time quickly became anachronistic or forgotten.

Tuttle wrote that “logistics” was a new word to many people then, as fielding a large army into undeveloped territory across a vast ocean was an unprecedented concept. In our modern post-jet-age economy, “logistics” is found in perky ad slogans of major companies.

Our modern world has been shaped by things we call “low intensity conflicts”, “limited war”, and “counter-terrorism operations”. These are all terms that would have been completely unknowable to a reader of the pre-nuclear 1940s. To help the modern reader bridge those gaps of time and language, we have included a section of brief historical context, and a small glossary.

Histories are generally either top-down views, summarizing the whole situation, or narratives from an individual perspective. Tuttle’s Kyushu Diary is at its heart a personal narrative. But Tuttle went to some trouble to paint a complete picture of the scene in the Pacific, from the home front all the way across to the battlefields in Japan, for the benefit of American readers who had been shown mostly news from Europe in the preceding years. Toward that effort we add this guide, additional maps, a list of further reading, and a judicious few additions to the text footnotes.

Tuttle believed in the spontaneous uncertainly of momentous events, which could turn out vastly different from changes in decision making or from natural flukes, and he was keen to communicate this to readers. In that spirit we also include a list of books of alternate histories or historical fiction novels, fantastic explorations of entirely possible what-ifs in this part of history. Popular topics in this genre are ‘What if we forced Japanese surrender by dropping atomic bombs on cities instead of military targets?’ and ‘What if we dropped atomic bombs on cities and they kept on fighting anyway?’

The book is not a parade of military hardware or a treatise on combined arms tactics. It does not get into any high level politics or command decisions. As before the war, Tuttle wrote about people and how they over came their own local problems. As a reporter he provided regular updates about the progress of each battle and the larger situation, but his real interest was in setting the stage for human stories to play out.

The text of Kyushu Diary varies considerably from the columns that were published under Tuttle’s byline during the war. The columns were worked over by many editors, and parsed out to fill some number of column-inches three days a week. Tuttle did not actually write to a format or deadline; he submitted when he could. The book was written directly from Tuttle’s own notes and original submissions. Many boring days are skipped, and some busy days have a dozen pages of dense material. That’s war for you.


November 16, 1945 : X+1 – off Kyushu

…This morning the weather brought low clouds with a chance of rain and heavy kamikaze showers. Before that a wave of suicide boats made out from the many nooks on Koshiki-retto, through a dim pre-dawn haze. The 160th regiment of the 40th infantry division has been working to clear any threats from that island since X-4, together with Navy destroyers circling the jagged shore. Much ordnance has been expended against the rocks there, blasting any suspicious looking crevice which might hide a small ship. But there are a great many crevices and clearly some of the deadly boats survived.

Kamikaze planes were expected at the first bit of bad weather, but the risk from attack boats was supposed to be eliminated. Destroyer picket screens against incoming aircraft are well beyond Koshiki-retto from this invasion fleet. Just one destroyer was patrolling between our big ships and the island, and she was busy this morning just keeping them at bay from her own hull. The USS Charette claims five shinyo sunk, with another probable. That may have been most of them, but we know at least three more got through, because they found the cruiser USS Little Rock and my recent acquaintance the USS Red Oak Victory. The Red Oak was back to her old job of at-sea re-supply of ordnance to Navy ships. The Little Rock did her share of pre-invasion shore bombardment, and was to continue the job of delivering fire support after taking on more deadly packages.

The Red Oak Victory was parallel to the shore, less than two miles off, tethered to the Little Rock. Gunners on the Red Oak may have hit some of the attacking boats, but the Little Rock reports that two of them got close enough to blow big holes in her hull, possibly starting off secondary explosions in the holds, and put her under in a blink. It was all the cruiser could do to cut the transfer lines and get clear of the sinking ship so they wouldn’t smash any swimming survivors. Little Rock’s gunners barely caught a glimpse of a final suicide motorboat gunning past the rolling wreck. The boat closed the last few dozen yards to the Little Rock and its multi-hundred-pound bow charge ripped through the light cruiser’s armor. I have no word on fatalities from below, but one machine gun crew on deck reported injuries from wood splinters and impact from one severed human hand.

The Little Rock is still afloat, after a scary stretch of fire fighting and damage control work. As the news came in, I sat in my corner of the radio room with an angry knot in my stomach at the certain fate of so many of my friends from the hard-working Red Oak Victory. Radio traffic continued its steady professional cadence. Hold picket screen, do not adjust. Oakland to assist. Task two fleet tugs. Notify USS Comfort.

Radio calls picked up urgency as two radar pickets ships saw a swarm of objects at the same time. A loose mass of objects came at cloud level from the direction of Nagasaki . Dozens more stragglers spanned fifty miles behind the main body. It was just at first light , so our radar equipped night fighters were still on station. One at a time they braved the cloud layer to hunt by glowing scope. Flying singly in strict zones to avoid collisions, they would do little to reduce the pack.

Close flying through clouds is no picnic, even for veteran pilots. Our second line of picket ships reported at least one pair of wrecked planes tumbling down out of the clouds, probably after a mid-air collision. Minutes later the outer ring of destroyers in our invasion fleet opened up with radar-directed flak at the approaching mob. Other ships joined in before I heard excited Japanese from one of the radios which had been silent.

I ran outside to look, brushing aside a scolding ensign, who shut the hatch behind me. Scores of Japanese planes dropped down out of the clouds. Two dozen Navy fighters, up and ready from the early radar picket alert, were inbound from the west to meet them. Once the forces merged it would be impossible for ships’ gunners to target Japanese planes without endangering American pilots. This rarely stopped American gunners under kamikaze attack.

One Japanese plane broke out, faster than the others, directly at my ship. I didn’t run or even flinch. Some how I knew she was not meant for me. The Jap plane streaked along low and level, shifting sideways just enough to be difficult to hit. The pilot was cool and experienced. I could see that his plane had no bomb. He did have two U.S. Navy “Hellcats” on his tail. The Japanese plane tore over my ship and I recognized it as one of the newest types, a Shinden, faster and stronger than the famous Reisen “Zero” that gave the world so much trouble through 1942.

Behind the Shinden were the two American fighters. Behind those were three older Japanese Navy planes just coming into view, each with an oversize bomb slung below. Our F6s were almost upon the dodging Shinden, and the lead Hellcat tore into it, throwing .50-caliber slugs through its structure and making the engine smoke. The Jap pilot pulled up into a full 180 degree reversal, adding a half barrel roll near the top, keeping up airspeed along the way. The surprised American fighters started a long level turn to come around and finish their prey. But the lead Japanese pilot had done his job. His three followers stormed ahead free of opposing fighters. They weaved near wave top, daring Navy gunners to shoot so low they could hit other ships. Gunners did fire, from every angle, and shortly the left plane erupted into a shower of debris which scattered over the water. The other two bore on, absorbing minor hits, engines screaming.

Just 300 yards forward and to port of my ship was the transport USS Montrose, also carrying elements of the 5th Marine Division. Like us she was still full, waiting for the division to get orders ashore. With barely a dozen yards to spare, gunners on the Montrose found the right plane in the remaining suicide pair, causing it to break apart, but it was too late. Most of both planes plowed into the side of the lightly armored transport, the bomb from the damaged plane impacting somewhere below the water line. In a dramatic flourish the injured Shinden pilot finished his flaming dive directly into the superstructure of the rapidly listing transport.

The Montrose sank in eight minutes. The Third Battalion of the 28th Marines ceased to exist.



Tuttle wrote in December of 1945 about the Navy being anxious to be relieved of invasion support to go attack enemy ports and airfields – the source of trouble for the Navy in the form of suicide boats and kamikaze planes. The same scene had played out around Okinawa just a few months before. Once Okinawa was secured and had large fighter and bomber bases operating, the U.S. Navy unleashed everything it had on Japanese installations on Kyushu. The job was bragged about in the internal Navy magazine, Naval Aviation News. Here we share that article with you, copied right out of the August 15, 1945 issue.

[click images for full size]


There is a newspaper “infographic” mentioned in the introduction to X-Day:Japan, from an early 1943 newspaper. The graphic is a map of the expansive Japanese empire, drawn to support an editorial position that the U.S. and allies should attack Japan by invading through mainland Asia. The paper, the Los Angeles Examiner, was sure that a campaign of Pacific island hopping would be a brutal and very long fight. “Two Ways to Reach Japan – One May Take a Decade”, the paper illustrates. You may notice that much detail is given of Japanese fortifications, but precious little of their proposed alternative.

It’s a nice map though.
[click for full size]

pacific map ww2 wwii world war two 1943 invasion of Japan


December 7, 1945 : X+22

Infantry in the field have little use for calendars. The day of the week means nothing to a man who is on the job all seven days no matter what, and hasn’t seen Sunday church services in months. Prayers out here are whispered on the schedule of artillery barrages and frontal assaults, not according to the program in a hymnal. The day of the month is immaterial to a soldier who pays no rent, though it should be cheap for accommodations consisting of a muddy hole and half a tent.

Those few here who do still keep track of what day it is recognize this as Pearl Harbor day. December 7th, four long years ago, the mighty Japanese Imperial Navy launched the surprise attack that ultimately brought us here. It would seem fitting for us to present them with an unpleasant surprise today, a little ‘thanks for the memories’ token of appreciation.

But I don’t think there will be any surprises offered in this part of the world. We assaulted this island with a quarter million combat troops and thousands of trucks and hundreds of tanks over three weeks ago. Our navy guns and artillery have pulverized in detail thousands of acres of Japanese home territory. I think they know we’re here.

One surprise for them might have been that the air force is operating out of the large airfields in Kanoya, but they tell me that won’t happen until tomorrow. We have been flying ground attack fighters from small improvised strips near the beaches since early on. Engineers get busy on the larger permanent airfields as soon as they are taken, but regular air operations don’t commence until the field is out of enemy artillery range and threat of night infiltration attacks.

Kanoya has the biggest prize airfield in this area, but it lies in a valley between what a civilian might call ‘beautiful mountain backdrops’, or the military calls ‘commanding heights’. Those heights must be cleared of unfriendly ‘sightseers’ before the field is safe to use.

The 1st cavalry division has nearly flushed out the last resistance in the rugged peninsula to the south. The 40th division believes it has a firm hold on the near sides of the dominating Onogara-dake, a 3600 foot jagged mountain that I imagine will be featured on postcards they will sell at Kanoya if it ever becomes a civilian airport.

So the plan is by this time tomorrow to have aircraft of many types able to land at Kanoya, quickly turn around, and rejoin the fight. Each captured or improvised airfield that opens up in a combat zone gets put to use like this as soon as it’s safe, and often before that. I can tell you several reason why, and why it’s important.

The first and most obvious thing is that the hours flying back and forth from a far-back air base to the front don’t have to happen. An attack plane can make many short trips in a day instead of one long one, delivering its presents to a greater number of naughty boys on the ground. A patrol fighter can spend many hours circling a patch of sky, or fight until its guns are empty instead of the gas tanks.

Sometimes people look at a map which says that target such-and-such is now in range of aircraft type so-and-so and they think ‘Great, that’s a done deal! It’s practically ours already.’ But if they stop and do the math they’ll realize the severe limits of operating at range. If a plane has say 12 hours endurance, as they call it, and it’s five hours away from the target each way (assume it’s the same both ways for simplicity), the plane can spend no more than two hours “on station” over the combat area. If you need to have constant coverage, and let me tell you the boys on the ground would really appreciate it if you made that happen, it now takes a squadron of twelve planes just to keep two at a time where they can do any good. Flying at great distance is what they call a “force divider”.

A subtler point is the drain long flights have on the airmen. It’s physically taxing, and a unique mental strain. I’ve seen this in every flying unit, but the problem was most acute with the long range B-29 pilots I visited in the Marianas. A squadron leader in one wing, Major Ralph Praeger of Great Bend, Kansas, explained it to me. “A bombing mission from here might be 8 hours out and 7 coming back. All of that is over wide open deep blue ocean. There’s very little to do but think about the risks, how on every large mission a few planes don’t come back, and for no known reason. They just don’t show up. Getting shot at over the target area is one thing. It almost seems fair [the Japs shooting back], I think some guys look at it that way any how. The rest of it though, it’s just nerve wracking.” Indeed it isn’t fair, one little (relatively) aluminum skinned bomber up against a humongous piece of fickle nature like the whole Pacific ocean.

The B-29, being a complexity-no-object state-of-the-art machine, requires plenty of maintenance after a long flight. If you ever get a chance to see a cutaway of one of those 18 cylinder supercharged radial engines that power these bombers, four at a time, I recommend it. It’s a thing of beauty, but remember that all those parts have to keep working together dozens of hours at a time, without service or inspection, for a loaded bomber to do a job. Now, if you get a chance to see a cutaway of a bomber pilot, I do not recommend it, because it’s pretty messy, but also a lot more complicated than even that radial engine or an entire bomber. Bomber crews sleep for a whole day after a big job. After an all-day mission they typically aren’t asked to fly again for three days or more.

Another reason we want close land air bases sooner-than-possible is the way it opens up the Navy’s aircraft carriers for their best uses. Navy and Marine flyers love supporting ground troops, but they also love their ships. The majority of the sea based planes here have been doing air defense, and as we’ve seen the fleet itself is the thing most in need of protection. The British sent every carrier they could muster, but their planes are 100% tasked with protecting their own part of the fleet.

The impatient airmen I talked to today, watching their new home air base being roughly finished, explained that the carriers would be free to move around more once the Army lets them go, and one thing they’ll like to do is go hunting for small airfields and harbors the enemy suicide planes and boats have been coming from. Shooting Japanese planes on the ground and boats at anchor would bring us back to symmetry with December 7, 1941.

It’s been a grand show , but I will not be sad to see the navy pull up its circus tent and take the show on the road, with a different script.


[this is a portion of Tuttle’s entry for October 29, 1945]

A card game broke out that night in one of the enlisted barracks. That happened most nights anyway, but this one had very little to do with gambling. I was sitting in, mostly minding my ante, not wanting to take anyone’s money but not wanting this bit of material to be too expensive. (Editors are not fond of reimbursing wagers!)

The guys needed to pass the time thinking about something other than the impending unknown. We still didn’t even know when we were going, nobody did. We had a good guess where, though, and talked about everything but that. Still, people will drift back to what they have in common, and this group from all over a dozen states had only two things in common – the United States Marine Corps and whatever adventure it ordered them on next.

Finally a readily agitated private from Detroit, Dante Iacoboni, spoke up. “They say the Japs spent eight or ten months, twelve tops, digging in around here {Okinawa}. It cost us three months and a giant ass-kicking to kick them out of this [expletive]. How long you think they’ve had to dig in on Japan proper?”

After a pause another veteran Detroiter, Sgt. Ora Inman, answered him quietly. “About a thousand years.” The senior man on the deck, Sgt. Barnard, wasn’t even playing, as he fastidiously tended his gear, like he did every evening. But he was listening and spoke up right away.

“Listen up fellahs. I’m not supposed to say anything, but the word is that there’s a ‘surprise’ inspection tomorrow morning. Don’t tell ‘em I said so, but you might want to call it a night here and square away your gear now.”

The players agreed readily that they’d had enough cards anyway. They had a quick round of the usual arguing about who had cheated using the markings on the well worn deck and went to their respective barracks and tents.

There was no inspection the next morning.

aircraft ID playing cards