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

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    The bombings from the Marianas started in November ‘44. They did not become city attacks until March of ‘45, after the less than optimal results of Eight Air Force style daytime “precision” raid attacks apparent.

    As I said, ITTL it’s not clear whether they will go in immediately with city attacks.
     
  2. Alanith Well-Known Member

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    Unless they’re planning on hanging off Midway for at minimum several weeks while a new landing force is readied (and shitty torpedoes or not, the USN sub community will LOVE having the IJN scooting around at fuel saving minimum speeds in a highly predictable area), by the time they’re ready for a second landing, Midway will be even more reinforced, and more of a poisoned bear trap then the first time around.

    Now having the capital ships dump their shell magazines into the island after they decide the USN battleline isn’t showing, that’s a different story. For probable effects see basically every preinvasion bombardment conducted by the allied forces during the war and how they rarely, if ever, lived up to expectations.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019 at 12:33 PM
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  3. M79 Well-Known Member

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    Sydney Harbor had already been attacked and aerial bombing elsewhere in Australia occured with fears that Curtin's government might fall or that the general populace might fall prey to defeatism. There was major concern about a possible invasion in both Australia and New Zealand, if FS goes ahead especially in the face of a reverse Midway I think Japan might try to conclude a separate milder peace, especially as both have lots of their manpower tied up elsewhere and would then have limited opportunities for defense at sea.
     
  4. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Why wouldn't they? When the XX Bomber Command first had the ability from China, they started hitting cities first.
    Ahem.
    Factory complexes in Cities.

    I agree they won't be doing low level firebombing at first, but will be bombing cities, with the first atom bomb with some factory as its Ground Zero
     
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  5. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    The U.S. military knew that the Japanese couldn't manage a strike against the Pacific Coast unless the held Hawaii, it's logistical impossibility. The public didn't, which why there the early war panics in LA happened (this will, of course, require that there be a highly publicized dog & pony show showing how the Army and Navy have stoutly reinforced the West Coast, and things like Civil Defense drills, civilian aircraft observers, etc. to keep the voters happy at the supper table).

    While the exact range of the IJN vessels are not known, a very good estimate could be made based on simple observation by military attaches attached to the Embassies. A ship of a given tonnage has a maximum load capacity. While the range of a carrier, probably more than any other ship type is more difficult to determine (it is necessary to take an educated guess at how bunkerage is split between Av Gas and fuel oil, so an error of a several hundred miles is inevitable) this is very much not the case for destroyers, cruiser and battleships. the number of fleet tankers is also fairly well known (and the Japanese, unlike the U.S. & UK, even the Dutch, had a remarkably small tanker fleet, including basic 8 knot civilian cargo carriers). That provides a clear maximum range for any non-suicidal attack. The absolute max range for a IJN action coming from either the Home Island or the Marshalls was about 4,000 miles. The minimal range from the Marshalls (assuming the shipping doesn't literally sail withing a couple hundred miles of the Hawaiian Islands) is ~4,700 miles. Even with all available tankers and deck loading of fuel drums the Japanese destroyers run dry at least 800 miles short. That means sending the Kido Butai, without escorts, some three days sailing to attack positions off the West Coast. The U.S. has multiple submarine bases (Bremerton, San Francisco, San Diego) with boats operating in those waters. The U.S. is also, unlike on December 7th, at full war alert with heavy recon flights and patrol shipping ranging out 500+ miles (mostly B-18 and PBY, although some B-17 training was also used in a double role). The IJN command knew this and they were not going to screw with that hornet's next.

    Actually the same can be said for the mythical invasion of Australia. While the IJN may have been utterly intoxicated with Victory Disease, the IJA was not. The IJA only devoted the troops for the capture of the Southern Resource Area because of fuel and other raw material, especially rubber, considerations. The IJA was chest deep in China where for some bizarre reason the damned Chinese refused to admit they were defeated and kept fighting. The IJA was not going to follow the Navy on some idiotic attempt to capture a CONTINENTAL LAND MASS while trying to take China. Since the Army, just like the Navy, could bring down the government at a whim (and since the Army's field grade officer corps had demonstrated a remarkable willingness to sort of kill political opponents that might impede the Chinese conquest) Australia wasn't going to happen. The WAllies had no way of being certain on this point, so there will, undoubted, still be the withdrawal of Australian divisions from the Western Desert (on about the same schedule as IOTL), and the U.S. will need to send/retain the 1st Marine Division in Australia, with the 2nd Marines maintaining there OTL basing in the South Pacific, including New Zealand. Additionally the aircraft assets spent on Watchtower will almost certainly be sent instead to Australia, along with the U.S. Army units dedicated to the early Solomons campaign. Of course none of this impacts the ETO even a trifle.

    Japan was very much the lesser threat and those in power knew it. Watchtower was a lucky break thanks to OTL's Midway, an offensive done on a shoestring because the opportunity presented itself. There was no Watchtower before Midway. It, along with Cartwheel, were entirely divorced from the ETO. What could the early ETO actions, Torch (North Africa), Husky (Sicily), even Avalanche (Salerno) and Slapstick (Taranto), really provide to the PTO. The PTO was all about aircraft carriers, specifically carriers that could deal with the long ranges in the Pacific, and, prior to Leyte/Luzon, relatively small 2-3 division operations. The Torch force does nothing to help, nor does Husky (by which time the pipeline for new carrier construction was wide open in any case). The major U.S. buildup in the ETO was a early-mid 1943 event, not early-mid 1942. The only possible change is that it take a couple extra months to get the 8th AF up to full strength (not entirely a bad thing since this means somewhat fewer losses while the Mustang finishes its transformation from ground attack to long range escort) with additional B-17s sent to Australia and Hawaii.

    Regarding Japanese cities - The USAAF was very much a believer in its Strategic precision bombing strategy right up until it needed something else (of course Arnold et al knew "precision" was crap with BDA shoing bombs hitting six miles from the IP on a regular basis). LeMay did probably twig to the harsh reality earlier than some in the chain-of-command (of course Arnold sent him out to the Pacific fwor a reason, and it wasn't to remove him from the ETO), but the reality was going to happen. Japan was tailor made for firebombing. The Japanese relative lack of air defenses, especially night fighters and radar directed AAA, made lower level tactics doable, napalm made the Mark 69 bomblet horrifically effective (especially against Japanese city structures, as demonstrated during tests in 1943), and the Japanese industrial practice of using many small supplies scattered across industrial city residential area provided a fig leaf for the less bloody-minded to use for cover regarding the "morality" of the attacks.

    Japanese cities were going to die. Not a happy or even palatable reality, but it was the reality of Total War.
     
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  6. docfl dazed and confused

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    Wondered if you had 3 or 4 jeep carriers. Could you have them hit and attacks to keep the Japanese guessing?
     
  7. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    Even more useless than the usual WWII Shore Bombardment. IJN battleships didn't use HE shells at this point in the war. So all those battleships are loaded with is AP shells. On a shore bombardment, most of those shells won't even detonate
     
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  8. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Well, there is no Japan MAX situation that allows them carrier raids on the West Coast. Logistically impossible for them, especially if they can't base out of Oahu.
     
  9. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    It's not that much of a problem, save for occasional small bomber sweeps out of Guadalcanal. The Japanese can't take New Caledonia. They can't take Samoa. They can't take Fiji. They might not even be able to take Espiritu Santo.

    They were just about at their logistical limit by summer of 1942. They could take Port Moresby, perhaps, if they moved quickly enough and had a little luck.

    Admittedly, Allied planners were not fully aware of Japanese limitations, and had to worst case things in planning.
     
  10. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    You could sink every single American fleet carrier and it wouldn't be enough to alter the Germany First policy. Washington and London were far too deeply invested in it - and rightly so.
     
  11. Stephanus Meteu Well-Known Member

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    That would be unfortunate. Those carriers were both poor sea boats and very poor aviation platforms with no growth margins. It was a bad design, barely an actual conversion at all and more a "slap a flight deck on a half finished cruiser". Generally speaking the CVEs were better ton for ton and dollar for dollar except for being slow.

    The later Saipan on CA hull and machinery finally fixed the CVL design, mostly.

    Doing more Independence class that late probably means the damn thing are still joining the fleet in late 44, at which point they are a total waste. The Independence class available in 41 or 42 is useful, but once the Essex tidal wave hits they are just using crew, planes, fuel, and other resources better spent on many other things. Hopefully someone would figure that out.
    Depends on if the Pacific is being put on pause completely or continuing to get resources and such, impossible to say really.
    Domestic political fallout might in the US, there was strong American public opinion toward a Japan first preference, illogical though it was.
    Entirely and completely implausible, farcical, fantasy, barking at the moon lunacy, impossible.
     
  12. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    FDR was going nowhere and he was the main driver of Germany First.

    The one thing that might have changed things is if the American/Philippine forces repel the Japanese invasion and are left besieged, but looking like they have hope. It would be a military error of the first order, but might be politically inescapable.
     
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  13. Butchpfd Well-Known Member

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    Oct 22, 2009
    But the losses of Aircraft mechanics and deck handling crews and pilots and still on board was almost total. New Japanese carriers have to start those divisions from scratch, no cadres from the lost carriers.
     
  14. Fearless Leader Donor

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    Also important to note that in TTL neither the Shokaku nor the Zuikaku get the infusion of veteran crews from the four carriers sunk at Midway. IIRC these crew members dramatically increased their effectiveness for the remainder of the war. Let's also remember that the Japanese weren't completely ignorant about damage control. They did learn some lessons from Midway which served them well in the Solomons and after. In TTL those lessons go unlearned meaning that the USN/RN still can exploit them.

    Assuming an alternate battle of Midway that sees all 3 US carriers sunk in exchange for no Japanese and a near complete massacre of the landing force, would we see the Japanese resume the offensive in August 1942? Obviously, they want to strike while the iron is hot but they'll need at least until August to get the Shokaku and Zuikaku operational after the Battle of the Coral Sea. (I'm assuming that due to Japanese doctrine the remaining fleet carriers will take until September to deal with any damage to their ships and aircrew losses.) Perhaps in TTL they send their two fleet carriers to cover Operation FS while their light carriers cover a second attempt on Midway? Remember, according to Japanese intelligence they've sunk 5/6 US fleet carriers by this point in TTL. It could set up an interesting situation for the US, do they send the Saratoga and Wasp to the South Pacific or do they back up the Marines on Midway for Round 2?

    I'd love to see the look on Yamamoto's face when news reaches him that not only are his two newest carriers now gracing the bottom of the Pacific, but the second assault on Midway was also massacred despite no naval opposition and increased shore bombardment. (Granted this means that Nimitz has balls of steel in TTL to send his only two carriers to the South Pacific but I don't think it's completely implausible...)
     
  15. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Talking about the Battle of Tenaru you must admit that this guy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_C._Vouza was pretty awesome ! Gets stabbed by the Japanese (At times you wonder if the IJA watched Hollywood films and got the roles mixed up. At time like these you wonder if they pointed at villains and said "I want to be like them!") and left for dead. He crawls to US lines and warns them(This even reads like a 1920's Hollywood film) giving them time to set up. After 12 days in the hospital receiving 16 pints of blood he recovers and returns to duty. He was given the silver star and the legion of merit from the US as well as being made an honorary Sargent Major of the United States Marine Corps. He is award both the MBE and a KBE from the Brits.
     
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  16. M79 Well-Known Member

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    If Japan is threatening Hawaii directly and there are no functional American carriers left I'm not sure Washington's resolve would continue.
     
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  17. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    There are a number of these men, few of whom ever get the recognition they deserve.
     
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  18. M79 Well-Known Member

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    One of a group like the French at Cameron, the Sikhs at Saragarhi, Ernest Edwin Evens, Benito Roy Benavidez, Joe Rodriguez, Richard Sorge, and so many others whose real stories would make for better movies than most of what Hollywood makes nowadays.
     
  19. Gunner's_Quadrant Lord High Commander of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick

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    How are the Japanese going to threaten Hawaii directly?
    As of June 1942, there were 2 combat divisions in the Hawaii Territory with a total of over 100,000 ground troops, the USAAF had over 15,000 men, 200+ fighters, and over 100+ heavy and medium bombers. That's not counting the USN and USMC aircraft stationed and in transit there. There were functioning radars around the islands. As Calbear stated above, the USN knew that the IJN had to be at their utmost logistical limit just getting to the islands, trying to stay any length of time is just not going to happen. What can they do? A couple of days worth of air attacks against prepared opponents.

    With travel time back from Midway, refitting and rebuilding the lost aircrews, and travel time to the Hawaiian Island, the earliest the IJN can get there is mid-August, probably later. You don't think that the US would be loading up the islands with every available airplane to ensure its defense? As crazy as the Japanese are, even they realize that another go at Pearl Harbor is a bad idea.

    I see the Japanese as having two viable alternatives in the above scenario. Either proceed with Operation FS which has a high probability of getting defeated or making another attempt at Port Moresby, that will be tough but it has a higher chance of succeeding than Operation FS. The Japanese may have not realized it but by June 1942 they have reached their culminating point. They cannot keep advancing with facing major defeats in whatever they attempt.
     
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  20. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    Except there are two American carriers, the Sara and Wasp. This being the case it is sort of a moot point. As has also been pointed out there is also still the Ranger (although it probably would have taken the loss of both of the other U.S. decks to get Ranger sent into the Pacific.

    As I mentioned earlier; but summer of 1942 Hawaii was impregnable. If this scenario played out as presented (extraordinarily unlikely) the U.S. would have north of 400 combat aircraft, all first line (P-40C/D/F, P-38, B-17, F4F-4, SBD, TBF, etc.) with heavy radar ranged 3" and 90mm AAA and massive numbers of 40mm medium AAA guns, including both fixed and mobile units, and 360° radar coverage 24/7. There were also better than two fully trained and kitted out divisions on Oahu.

    The U.S. would send a Christmas gift to any IJN senior officers who sent the Kido Butai into that kill sack.
     
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