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1942 Invasion Scares

In March 1942 Life magazine printed an article entitled "Now the U.S. Must Fight for its Life", written by Phillip Wylie, looking at six alternative scenarios for an Axis invasion of the United States. The article was intended to make readers consider the possibility of the United States losing World War II and falling under Nazi control.

In the war in Europe, which had begun in 1939, by 1942 the fascist Axis counted its actions by victories, although events were still to come in the Pacific. In March of 1942, the Americans had Bataán, MacArthur left the Philippines and the Manila massacre took place, the siege of Leningrad, Corregidor, the Java Sea, the abandonment of Singapore by the British, Malaysia, and much more. The Axis powers in Europe controlled Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Norway, Yugoslavia, Finland, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and parts of the Soviet Union (Ukraine, Belarus, Crimea ), parts of North Africa, in addition to having Hungary, Romania, as allies, Bulgaria and Slovakia Italy, too, of course, controlled Sicily, Ethiopia and Libya. And the Japanese invaded a large part of China, Southeast Asia and Indonesia. The general situation did not seem very favorable.

These maps were created as illustrations for an article about a hypothetical US defeat in the Second World War created by the pioneer science fiction writer Philip Wylie. In addition to Hollywood-feeding work, interesting fiction, insightful scifi and social commentary, Wylie also provided the inspiration for the creation of Superman (“The Gladiator”, 1930) and Flash Gordon (When Worlds Collide, 1933).

While it may seem sensationalistic in retrospective, barely a few months after the Pearl Harbor attack, the truth is that most people thought that Germans and Japanese forces could eventually try to invade the mainland. The lack of public information, coupled with Pearl Harbor's psychological impact and the relentless U-boat attacks to US convoys in the Atlantic Ocean, made people believe in what was practically impossible.

Neither Germany nor Japan had the natural or human resources to commit to such a huge operation, nor did they have such plans — but the fear was there. While these scenarios now look highly improbable, they were reflective of the acute necessity, for the benefit of the war effort, to transform American anxiety into American support for another war "over there".

1942 Invasion Options Plan One started with an attack on U.S. base at Dutch Harbor with all Jap aircraft carriers and the Fleet reinforced by German battleships, presumably giving naval superiority. Plan One included "Japanese hop-skip-and-jump across the northern Pacific in great force." The strategy included an attack on Dutch Harbor, on the Aleutian Islands, using Japanese carriers and German battleships. Japs capture air bases, much as they advanced through the East Indies. Then their land-based planes help the carrier planes to protect the next sea advance down the West Coast. An American fleet flings itself into the fight. U.S. fifth column, heretofore held in reserve, blows up the country. The Japs take the West Coast aviation industry, shipyards and oil wells. Then Germans stab at East Coast. On the East Coast, Germans would make "hit and run raids" using submarines, bombers and warships.

1942 Invasion OptionsPlan two was a frontal attack, first invading Pearl Harbor and then entering San Francisco. Plan Two focuses on a frontal attack to the west coast through Pearl Harbor. It would be a very hard road. The Japanese, with the support of transport aircraft, land first on the outer islands of Hawaii, establish air bases and approach Oahu. The most difficult would have been the leap from the ocean, only under the protection of naval aviation to San Francisco.

1942 Invasion OptionsPlan Three focuses on a journey through the Pacific of southern Japan. The Japanese Fleet, reinforced by the Germans, presumably has naval superiority over the US fleet. UU Probably the first attack would be a surprise bombardment of the Panama Canal, immediately followed by the landing in Ecuador.
1942 Invasion OptionsFour Plan is the most discussed of the invasion through Gibraltar-Dakar-Natal-Trinidad, which has treated over defense policy of President Roosevelt called 'Good Neighbor'. It is about the attack on the bases by a combination of the Japanese, German, Italian and Vichy warships (the name used for the French collaborationist regime since July 1940 after the German invasion), after capturing Gibraltar and Suez , they should face allied fleets in various parts of the world. The invasion would begin through the Mississippi Valley.
1942 Invasion OptionsFor the fifth plan, Life imagined a frontal attack taking Madeira, the Azores, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. From those bases, the combined Japanese and German navy would have met in the middle of the Atlantic, taken over Bermuda and attack Norfolk. The Five Plan seems very complicated because it involves crossing the Atlantic on the other. Combining Axis armies, islands of the Atlantic would be invaded and then the Azores route to Bermuda and Norfolk would be made. The biggest headache is the superiority of EE. UU in concept of aircraft carriers and maritime transport. 25 Nazi ships could transport up to four divisions.
1942 Invasion OptionsThe Six Plan is the classic invasion of St. Lawrence and Hudson Valley. The Germans could easily bomb Chicago, Detroit, Akron and march in blood and fire across the Midwest. For all this, it would be a real stroke of good fortune to be able to avoid the British fleet along the way. Plan six included the Japanese fleet travelling all through the Mediterranean to the Northern Sea, joining the Kriegsmarine there and sailing for an Iceland invasion while the Royal Navy was being kept busy by Nazi u-boats. After taking Iceland and Greenland, the fleet would have advanced all the way through the St Lawrence river and Hudson Bay to the Great Lakes.
1942 Invasion Options"Jap attack on Dutch Harbor, the pivot of Alaskan defense, would raise the curtain on Mr Wylie’s Battle of America. Here agile little Jap parachutists and landing troops from a glider towed by Jap flying boat (left) attack the village of Dutch Harbor oppsite the military base. U.S. defenses, for obvious military reasons, have not been shown."
1942 Invasion Options"In Southern California, with burning oil wells in the background, a Jap light tank has stopped for gas at a roadside filling station. The attendant pretends to oblige, then sprays the tank with gasoline, setting it afire. Jap shoots him down. Another attendant lies dead at right. A motorcyclist has overturned in foreground. This is what he sees."
1942 Invasion Options"Bombing war-producing factories would be another step in the attack. Here four-engine Heinkel-177’s, which can cross the Atlantic with a heavy bomb load, let fly at an East Coast plant. (Nazis try to pick key factories whose destruction stops other production.) Later the crew wrecks its secret equipment, aims plane at plant, parachutes, surrenders."
1942 Invasion Options"San Francisco would be assailted, after a naval battle off the California coast, by Jap fleet and bombers. In distance, enemy shells and bombs land in downtown section. The Oakland Bridge between San Francisco and Goat Island is being blown up by U.S. demolition men. At right a Jap troop transport has already arrived on the scene and has been set afire by U.S. bombs."
1942 Invasion Options"An East Coast airport is here shown as it might look being captured by German landing forces who have been ferried by air transport from Bermuda, following its capture by the Axis navies. The Nazis use an American gasoline truck to refuel their big Condor planes for the return hop (right). In their invasions Germans always head for airports first to gain superiority in the air."

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Page last modified: 16-07-2018 23:31:09 ZULU