Combined Fleet destroys USN at Midway? Effects?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by aaronupright, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. aaronupright Well-Known Member

    Mar 27, 2019
    Well, we can forget about American Pacific offensives in '42 and for most of '43 as well. Presume all 3 carriers are sunk. Saratoga, Wasp and Ranger are the only carriers left in the US Fleet, and the later two are in the Atlantic. Maybe they both get sent to the Pacific a bit earlier.

    I suppose the focus of the later part of 1942 becomes the defence of Hawaii and proetcting the SLOCs to the West Coast.

    How would the eventual USN offensive occur, in this TL? Would RN try and take the offensive in the Far East to relieve the pressue on the Americans.
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  2. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

    Feb 2, 2013
    Presumably they try to take Midway with the Landing Force, but this will be a far harder nut to crack, and US Subs will be active in the Area.

    Long term, the USN can replace every one of those ships, but the USN is likely to scale back Dugout Doug's efforts, and a laser focus on the Central Drive. Might see the B-36 bumped up in priority, for bomb to be put on Japan sooner than later in waiting for the B-29 bases in China, when the B-36 could fly from the West Coast or Alaska
  3. Zheng He Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2013
    WASP was already on its way to the Pacific when Midway occurred (she left Norfolk in early June), RANGER probably gets sent as well, limitations of the design aside.

    It is possible one of the RN carriers with the Eastern Fleet gets sent to Hawaii to reinforce the Pacific Fleet, basically USS ROBIN a year early.

    One thing you could see is a more first line type role for the escort carriers as they start coming on line. When you are desperate for flight decks, anything that can launch and recover aircraft starts to look good.
  4. CV(N)-6 Just trying to learn

    Oct 7, 2019
    Is this assuming Spruance decides to stay put after sinking the carriers and gets shot to pieces in a night action, or is this the Japanese carriers win the battle?
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  5. General Tirpitz Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2010
    The Kingdom of Finland
    Would taking Midway, assuming it is achieved somehow ITTL, bring Japan any benefits from strategic perspective, either by allowing them new operational options or denying them from the US?
  6. Alanith Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2013
    It’d be pretty much impossible for the Japanese to take midway imo with what was assigned to the operation and what the plan was.

    1. The defenders outnumbered the attacking force, ALWAYS an excellent start, were dug in, and had armored support. The Japanese would be wading for half a mile through chest deep water, while the Americans tore them apart.

    2. The Japanese allocated only four heavy cruisers and two destroyers to bombard the island for 90 minutes before the first wave went in. Can you imagine the USMC agreeing to go land on a Japanese held fortress with that pissant a bombardment?

    Sure, theoretically the battleships or whatever’s left of the Kido Butai could supplement this... except they’re busy waiting to pounce on the slow American battleline. And I doubt the IJN would agree to release them for support duties till after the IJA has hugged the cactus with all four limbs. By the time they’re in position to assist, they may well be providing fire support to ghosts. Not to mention they’re going to be loaded down with AP shells and not HE. Plus NGS is against the doctrine of the IJN...

    I don’t see this ending in any way but a horrific defeat for the Japanese invasion, something which, if they’re lucky, they may be able to extract a mixed company from. More likely losses are near total.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  7. nbcman Donor

    Jan 6, 2009
    Plus there may be more Cleveland CL-> Independence CVL Conversions. If the US feels extremely threatened, they could pursue the proposed merchant conversions (SS America / AVG-4, SS Washington, SS Manhattan among others) which would take about 270 calendar days to convert at the cost of losing these fast transports / troop ships.
  8. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2014
    1123 6536 5321

    USA Builds an even larger Essex Carrier 'Pez Dispenser' than OTL

    As for the subsequent conduct of the war it all depends on weather the KB is as smashed as OTL or not - as this would dictate the USNs ability to carry out its pre war plans for the Mandates.
  9. wcv215 Well-Known Member

    Aug 29, 2010

    TL;DR, even without increasing changes to production caused by a loss at Midway the US swamps the IJN in 1943.
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  10. Gunner's_Quadrant Lord High Commander of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick

    Sep 23, 2012
    Focus would be on defending Hawaii, but that is the responsibility of the USAAF and USA; USN carrier assets would probably focus on deploying to the central Pacific on airstrikes like they did both before and after Midway but able to retain the ability to ambush any IJN forces deployed to attack the Hawaiian Islands.
    SLOCS to the West Coast are pretty secure, the focus would be on reinforcing the SLOCS to New Zealand and Australia; expect more reinforcements for Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

    Definitely no USMC landing on Guadalcanal in August 1942 and no Solomons Campaign in 1943. USN would focus on raids around the periphery of the Japanese defensive perimeter.
    First batch of Essex carriers probably can't be deployed much sooner than OTL; the second batch that arrived in OTL late 1943/early 1944 could be probably be deployed 2-3 months earlier.
    IJN ability to expand much further than OTL conquests is pretty limited; they had Operation FS on the books but it's doubtful they would have attempted it even if US carriers force was destroyed. Just not enough assets to see it through. I could see the Japanese make renewed efforts to capture Port Moresby and evict the Australians from New Guinea. There is really not much the USN could do to help the Australians with a severely reduced carrier force.

    I would think that the US would begin significant offensive operations in the central Pacific in the late 1943 timeframe, fairly similar to what OTL occurred. The question mark would be would the US consider going straight at the Marshall Islands and would it first would to test its amphibious doctrine elsewhere such as the Gilbert Islands, ie, Tarawa. With the reduced carrier assets, I don't see the two-pronged advance from both the central and southwest Pacific theaters, King would ensure that the Central Pacific advance would be the main effort.

    I just don't think the RN has the assets to do much in the Far East and I doubt that the Japanese would take these efforts seriously. The British have their hands full with the Med and keeping the sea lanes to Great Britain open. They just don't have any surplus capacity to do much in the Far East in the second half of 1942.
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  11. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Feb 16, 2011
    The Commonwealth
    The general consensus that seems to have arrived from years of discussion is that the war ends some 6-8 months later than OTL at worst, after the USN has rebuilt and gone after the IJN. So Victory in the Pacific comes in the spring of 1946 rather than the fall of 1945.

    The Japanese were at the end of their tether by the time of Midway. Even with a few months breathing room as the USN pauses its relentless drive across the Pacific, they'd have to win Midway level victories numerous times over to even cause the US to blink. A defeat at Midway might cause the USN to not go after the Phillipines and instead drive around the flanks, taking out the strategic threat to Australia while going after Wake and the Caroline Islands instead.
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  12. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

    Oct 4, 2005
    The result would be, at worst, a single axis assault. Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo, Okinawa, Man-made sunrise in a can. Surrender Ceremony in Tokyo Bay.

    REALLY bad for the people of the Philippines, who wind up with a year more under Occupation. Bad on Toast for the PoW survivors.

    More likely would be the same two axis offensive, but with much later start in the SW Pacific.
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  13. Catspoke Member

    Sep 23, 2005
    The absolute worst case scenario is perhaps, a British carrier or two is transferred to the Atlantic, Malta Relief Operation Pedestal is cancelled, Malta surrenders late September.
    A major effort is launched to garrison further Pacific bases, maybe Torch is delayed a month or two. Stalingrad relief happens due to German forces not transferred to med/vichy occupation. Soviets and Germans reach a peace agreement in 1943.

    But likely the repulse of the land invasion of Midway means the Americans don't need to panic, just put Saratoga and Wasp in Hawaii, and wait for the Essex class. I imagine when the advance happens again, the Americans would be a bit cautious for a while, maybe doubt the value of their intelligence. Could we see a major sea battle happen in the Aleutians first???
  14. Zheng He Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2013
    This could have butterflies for TORCH because if USN assets (particularly RANGER and the four CVEs that took part) are siphoned off to the Pacific this dilutes the forces available. Maybe this means Patton's armored division is sent to Egypt instead as was discussed and the overall TORCH operation is downgraded some.

    PEDESTAL will still go off as per OTL, the British still had two carriers in the IO at that time (FORMIDABLE and ILLUSTRIOUS) and ILLUSTRIOUS was still in the IO during TORCH so they have a reserve they can draw on.

    Depending on how big the Japanese victory is at Midway (as in what losses do they take) their next move is to try and cut the links between the US and Australia. The problem is the wider they expand their defensive perimeter, the more their new possessions are more isolated outposts than mutually supporting strong points.
  15. aaronupright Well-Known Member

    Mar 27, 2019
    If I were to guess.
    1. I think the 6-8 month delay is generous. A year or more is more likely. Especially if as is probable Nimitz is sacked and add to that the possibility of Fletcher and or Spruance being killed.

    2. The US is going to be more cautious after such a defeat. They are going to be major political pressures to protect the West coast against an Indian Ocean sortie type situation. More air assets moved there rather than England, bit like OTL, Africa earmarked troops were sent to Alaska.

    3. Midway ATL always come back to how Japan could never have won, regardless. True, but not really the point. The potential knock on affects are massive. Such as
    a) Torch and Europe build up. I think the US portion of the Torch op is greatly reduced, as OTL Naval assets are diverted. Maybe a division or two is sent. N Africa might continue for a few months longer. The USAAF in Europe and Med does not greatly expand until early ‘44, until than it’s like 1942, basically an augmentation to the RAF.
    b) RAF and RN were OTL heavily involved in the Indian Ocean in ‘42, despite N Africa still be very much in play. The presence was reduced in ‘43 after the Japanese Naval threat receded. If the USN is on such a defensive footing, the political pressure for the RN and RAF to take the offensive to reduce pressure will be enormous.
    c) Even a delay of 8 months means that the bombardment of Japan has not begun in earnest yet by July ‘45 when Trinity happens. This almost certainly delays the first use. Which means the war continues for a few months, and OTL cancelled British operations in Malaya and the Far East go ahead.
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  16. History Learner Well-Known Member

    Apr 13, 2012
    U.S. can't undertake the strategic offensive until late 1943, greatly extending out the war and possibly making it long enough, and costly enough, for Japan to get the conditional surrender/compromise peace they were seeking IOTL 1945. For some possible effects:

    - Without the Southwest Pacific slugfest, the China Expeditionary Army can undertake Operation No.5 against the Sichuan Basin, possibly enough to knock China effectively out of the war.
    - Port Moresby, perhaps even Darwin can be taken, seriously endangering SLOCs to Australia in addition to air bases in the Solomons.
    - Operation TORCH could be delayed due to lack of air cover or, at least, significantly reduced in scope/size due to lack of ability to protect all landing sites. Axis could bunker down in Tunisia into late 1943 as a result.
    - Given the above, 6th Army might successfully be broke out of Stalingrad, with all that entails.
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  17. Jukra Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2007
    Tuborg at Uborg
    Optimistic view: Operation Torch is cancelled and with butterflies Sicily and Italy. UK and US invade France in 1943. Op Dragoon goes in with help of Vichy French forces. Germany is finished by June 1944.

    In the Pacific the Japanese efforts are even more influenced by too little shipping over too long distances.

    In the Pacific the counteroffensive starts in late 1943. By September 1944 the US lands in Marianas and Soviets invade Manchuria. In late 1944 the Emperor thinks that the war situation has not gone smoothly.
  18. anotherlurker Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2010
    Mountains, everywhere...
    How much of an issue is the massive loss of experienced sailors and officers?
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  19. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

    May 14, 2017
    Good point. How are the ships lost? Catastrophic explosion with very few crew saved? Or a situation like OTL Yorktown where all but direct battle casualties were rescued?
  20. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2014
    1123 6536 5321
    Good point - even OTL with very heavy losses the IJN flattops were not complete losses in terms of crews.