The book is subtitled The Secret Plan to Invade Japan-and why Truman Dropped the Bomb.
This is an extremely detailed and very interesting book, very, very well done. The basic idea of the book is that the US had two plans for invading the Japanese homelands, the first of which would be Operation Olympic, the invasion of the island of Kyushu. The Japanese, on the other hand, had figured out what would happen and even where the invasion would be aimed and were trying to take measures to meet the allied invasion with as much force as they could, hoping to inflict horrible casualties on the American troops and win a negotiated peace.
The author covers the early history of invasion plans and then talks about the B-29 and air power in general. He also covers the firebombing of Japan. He points out that a major portion of Japan's effort to research and produce an atomic bomb was destroyed in the bombing program.
Something I had not read elsewhere: the use had made it's own version of the German V-1 missile, calling it the JB-2 (Jet Bomb). A thousand of these were ordered, and plans were set to produce 5,000 per month by the fall of 1945. The schedule was to hit Japan with 500 of these missiles each day during the invasion. The “bat bomb” idea is also referred to in the book, the idea to attach incendiary explosives to bats and drop the bats on Japanese cities, allowing the bats to find places to roost and then the bombs were detonate, causing widespread fires in the buildings. The idea was eventually dropped, though.
In the battle of Okinawa, there were more than 1,9000 kamikaze attacks, giving a good idea of what would happen when the home islands would be invaded. This was operation Ten-Go. Many of the planes were shot down before they could crash into any ships. The author also talks about the Ohka, or baka bomb, the manned flying craft that used rockets to propel it on a one-way trip to smash into another plane or a ship.
The kamikaze attacks did a lot of damage physically, but they also had a negative psychological impact on allied soldiers.
The directive for Operation Olympic was issued on May 25, 1945. This was the plan for the invasion of Kyushu, It would involve 352,000 soldiers, 87,600 marines and more than a thousand B-29s. This was all part of the Downfall project. Operation Coronet would involve an attack on the Tokyo plain area and would be even larger than the Kyushu operation.
”In cities, towns, and villages the Japanese government distributed The People's Handbook of Resistance. The booklet was to prepare civilians to sacrifice their own lives in defense of their homeland, and to use any weapons they had, including sharpened bamboo spears, rocks and kitchen knives if necessary. The idea was for each person to kill at least one enemy soldier.
The idea of resistance in to Operation Olympic was to kill as many allied soldiers on the beaches as possible, hoping that this would get the US and other allies to negotiate for peace.
The book also covers ground other books have not, and that is the use of biological and chemical weapons against the Japanese in the planned invasion. Weapons were readied for use against both human and plant targets, one program planning to attack Japanese food sources.
The book also talks briefly about Unit 731 and the balloon bombs, and what could have become a biological warfare attack against the U.S.
Something which truly astonished me was that, if Japan was going to be physically invaded, it would be done only by white troops. There would be no black troops among the invading forces. The book also goes into casualty predictions made by the government.
The Japanese plan to meet the invasion was very straightforward. There would be no retreat. Men wounded were to be left behind. All units were considered fighting units, including medical and support units. Every man, woman and child in the civilian population was expected to fight to the death. The Japanese knew the beaches that the US planned to use in the invasion, so there would be little or no element of surprise in the attack.
The suicide weapons program was in full force. Over 10,000 suicide aircraft would have been ready for the battle. (The planets were for that purpose; a large portion were not really able to fight, being a ragtag group of planes of all kinds.) The baka bombs were still being made, and a new version with a longer range was being prepared. Manned torpedoes were available for use. Midget submarines were being prepared in the hundreds, and men in underwater gear were ready with bombs to be attack ships from underwater in their own suicide attacks.
The progress of the possible battle is covered, including the kamikaze attacks. There were even a small number of destroyers left to the Japanese that would have been used in such attacks.
Operation Coronet would have been the attack on the Tokyo area. The plan was to bombard the area for 180 days with planes, ships and the JB-2s. Chemical defoliants would have been used to kill plants hiding bunkers. The attack was aimed for March of 1946, and in that month alone over 220,000 tons of bombs alone would have been dropped on the area.
One possible result of all of this would have been a Japan divided between Russia and the US, just like Germany was, and a Korea entirely under Communist Chinese rule.
The author also talks about underground facilities that would have been used to house the leaders and factories so the war effort could have been continued. There were also several submarines left that had the ability to launch planes, and these would have been used to spread biological weapons over the US West Coast.
Atomic bombs would have been used in the invasion, six bombs dropped initially to help clear the beaches and several bombs held in reserve to attack Japanese troop buildups.
The author notes one study by medical men that estimated 137,500 American soldiers would be killed in the invasion of Kyushu and 343,000 wounded.
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