Combined Fleet destroys USN at Midway? Effects?

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

  1. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    Hey, the Sikhs were only outnumbered 70:1 (~1,500 Afghan tribesmen vs. 21 Sikhs).

    Camaron would be an absolutely epic movie (just the whole Wooden hand pledge alone). Of course the Legion was only outnumbered about 50:1.
     
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  2. M79 Well-Known Member

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    If Midway is a total bungle there may not much US Navy left in the Pacific. Taking Midway Island itself is likely by force, starvation, or both. Japan had thoughts of island-hopping to Oahu - but much of the rest of the Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean would be open to them for circa 6 months.

    There might only be the Saratoga left as a final carrier as she underwent repairs in California - but Hawaii would be increasingly isolated. Midway would yield American aircraft and other equipment that might find equivalents in Japanese (or German?) equivalents later. Australia and New Zealand are physically isolated with Samoa, Fiji, etc. open to invasion. Axis militaries continue their string of victories and morale sinks further. Lots of possibilities in the specifics but the overall picture is not good for at least the rest of 1942. Plan 21 might also get a go-ahead, especially after a successful FS.

    https://thediplomat.com/2016/01/what-if-japan-had-won-the-battle-of-midway/

    https://www.history.navy.mil/browse...-and-operations/world-war-ii/1942/midway.html
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  3. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Threatening it with what? Foul language? What are they going to take it with?
     
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  4. M79 Well-Known Member

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    Threatening it with starvation is one option. Japanese submarines could loiter using Midway as a base. Harassment bombings from land-based aircraft would be less effective but taking out fuel depots and repair yards would make life more miserable.

    https://www.historyextra.com/period...od-against-10000-men-the-battle-of-saragarhi/

    21 Sikhs vs 10,000 Afghani tribesman. Some reports had 600 Afghani bodies found after the battle. The House of Commons gave them *a standing ovation*! As they damn well should have!!!
     
  5. M79 Well-Known Member

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    That's a lot of food and fuel needed, especially on top of that of the local population.

    I disagree with the assessment of FS as having a lower chance of success than another attempt on Moresby. If Japan can trash the US navy in such a spectacular fashion there will be calls from Australia and New Zealand to bring more of the troops home which might have reprucussions in North Africa and the Middle East. In addition, the fear and concern for the largely undefeated Axis military was disproportionate to their capacities. We have the benefit of hindsite and access to the records of both sides, those in the moment did not.
     
  6. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, how could the IJN be smart enough to realize this? No Pearl Harbor to piss up USA. Just send a hopeless invasion force to the Philippines, say, one division, which can be beaten by Mac Arthur, while destroying their offensive capabilities (airpower and ships). This would play up upon US presupposition of Japanese military ineptitude against mighty Whites. Would there be enough political pressure and military ineptitude to press upon relief of the Philippines? At very least one could capture or sink a number of blockade runners, at (improbable) best the entire US battle line...
     
  7. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    IIRC it consumed 8 times the tonnage to ship 1 ton of supplies to the South Pacific from the US as it did to ship 1 ton of supplies to the UK. Shipping through the South Pacific with major IJN carrier forces based at Rabaul will be risky.
     
  8. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, but he was the one I thought of as he was the one in the battle.
     
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  9. kvnrthr Active Member

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    What would the American domestic reaction be? It's easy to say now over 70 years in the future that the US should not have had to withdraw anything from Europe. But politics might have trumped military necessity.

    I also wonder where the Japanese would fight next. Port Moresby had been mentioned, as was the FS operation. IIRC the Japanese got into an attritional battle with the US in the Solomons, grinding their air forces down. I'm not sure where this could happen if Operation Watchtower doesn't occur on schedule. I imagine this might just end up happening in New Guinea anyway, although if the Japanese actually manage to take the New Hebrides and Fiji, getting forces to Australia might prove much more difficult.

    I still think the Japanese lose anyway but how this might have happened is interesting. Suppose in an extremely successful campaign Moresby, Fiji and the New Hebrides are taken. When the US fleet is ready in 1943, where do they attack? Would the US even bother going into the Solomons or would it go straight for the Marshalls? Would the Japanese have been better prepared to repel the Americans, without the toll taken by the OTL battles in the Solomons?
     
  10. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    Totally agree but not every carrier was 'wiped out' Akagi: 267 out of 1,630 got off relatively lightly although the other 3 not so much - Kaga: 811 out of 1708; Hiryƫ: 392 out of 1100; Soryƫ: 711 out of 1100

    What I meant was that even if the 3 US Carriers were lost - its likely that given the superior DC of the USN the majority of the crews would be saved (Yorktown lost 141 out of a crew of 2217 and Hornet when she was sunk lost 140 out of a crew of 2200) and could be used to form the nucleus of the new carriers - or simply strengthening the pool of experienced carrier crew in the USN.

    Essex is commissioned in Dec 42, and the next 3 units during 1943 Yorktown Apr, Intrepid Aug, Hornet Nov, - with Intrepid likely renamed Enterprise if all 3 Yorktowns are lost.

    All 8 of the Independence class light carriers will be commissioned in 43 as well.

    So any opportunity for the IJN to take advantage of the loss of all 3 Yorktown's rapidly closes within 6 - 12 months
     
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  11. GDIS Pathe Well-Known Member

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    Which goes completely against established IJN Doctrine which called for the subs to be used as a tripwire to detect and attrit the main enemy battlefleet a strategy that while not wholly ineffective effectively precluded any attempt to launch a concerted campaign to isolate Hawaii. Not that such a campaign would've worked out particularly well considering the large numbers of US Aircraft and naval assets in the area

    It took the USAAF and the RAF Months of bombing with multi-engine bombers to render bases like Rabaul or Brest unsuitable for operations the Japanese are going to be flying twin-engined bombers in the face of determined radar-guided AA fire and dozens of American interceptors with limited or no escorts. It would be a shooting gallery
     
  12. Alanith Well-Known Member

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    Starved out? HOW? Using the submarines that are BY JAPANESE DOCTRINE to be used as a tripwire and first stage of attrition for THE KANTAI KESSEN!!!! You'd be goddamn assassinated if you suggested taking resources away from that holy grail to do something as 'irrelevant' as attacks against American Commerce. After all, THE AMERICAN BATTLE LINE IS STILLLL OUT THERE!!
     
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  13. M79 Well-Known Member

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    Vice Admiral Mitsumi Shimizu was not hung for saying it in April 1942 and on his recommendations the Japanese 6th (submarine) Fleet focused more on commerce after that. Besides, why give the US fleet 6-12 months recover and further fortify in Hawaii if you might use commerce raiding and starvation tactics to promote such a desperate battle in later 1942 before any of the Essex-class carriers can be brought to bear? Do you think the US allow such incursions to threaten Hawaii for months without some sort of response and potentially risk the fall of the islands in the process?
     
  14. Alanith Well-Known Member

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    Do you somehow think the US had no ability to interdict submarine operations off the coast of their major stronghold in the Pacific? You'd lose some ships sure, but convoys would be implemented in rather short order. And the threat is not from above you in the hierarchy, its from some junior officer with a chip on his shoulder and his service pistol or sword, with a better 'idea' about how the war should be run then the real professionals.
     
  15. Namayan Well-Known Member

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    Looks like one of those possible PoDs.

    Do you think FDR would shift the resources to Asia or would they still continue with Germany first policy regardless of political consequences?
     
  16. M79 Well-Known Member

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    Major problems with the Mk 14 torpedo remain at this point while supply limitations will restrict exactly what offensive capacity the US has from Hawaii. Putting convoys in effect has its own drawbacks. Moreover, the proposed plan to begin island-hopping towards Oahu might also come into play during this time. French Frigate Shoals has potential as a potential base and is just under half the distance from Hawaii as Midway's atoll. While Brest was attached to land and could be reinforced by rail etc. and Rabaul was so fortified it was in fact isolated until war's end, the latter was also much closer to other areas of potential supply like New Guinea. Oahu is about 2500 miles from California, resupply by air would not be practical and while there are Liberty Ships being built on the West Coast at that time they are (a) not being built at the prodigious rates more popularly known from mid-1943 onwards (a publicity stunt with need for additional layout/fittings done in just under 5 days and never repeated not withstanding) and (b) each taken from the runs to Britain or Russia might be felt later on, especially given the U-boat situation at this point in the war.

    Tojo reported after the war that an actual invasion of Australia was off the table even though there is evidence one was at least planned - there was not enough manpower to support it and logistics would be extremely difficult to manage. There was marked concern in Australia and New Zealand about the possibility with tank traps being built along a so-called 'Brisbane Line' with preparations being made elsewhere as well. Japan wanted to isolate Australia/New Zealand and deny their use as bases for Allied counter-attack, the bulk of both armies were in Europe and North Africa at that point with potential butterflies if recalled entirely. A disastrous Midway for the US could bring one or both to the table if the offer were mild enough. In addition, there were groups in the Imperial Army and Navy just before Midway trying to formulate a peace proposal specific to Britain - with Singapore lost, Australia and New Zealand under direct threat, and so many countrymen held from the fall of Singapore, maybe London hears them out, especially if Australia and New Zealand withdraw from hostilities or Japan keeps making gains.

    In addition, planning was underway for a repeat attack on Port Moresby potentially from late July of 1942 as well as a reinforced invasion of India around the same time with the goal of severing the supply lines into China, perhaps setting up a puppet Raj nation/series of nations as well. Alaska was a potential target as well especially if Dutch Harbor is more successful. Their apparent dream invasion of the continental US involved a two-pronged assault, one from Alaska taking British Columbia then Seattle with the other taking Midway, then Oahu, then striking at Los Angeles and San Francisco. If the victory disease runs rampant enough, that planning might also come into play somehow.
     
  17. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Yes. War Plan ORANGE contemplated a extended period of raiding for precisely this. While the war mobilization of the Pacific Fleet was completed. It was also understood raids would sharpen operational experience and test the enemies ability. Admiral Kimmels plan -46 published in March 1941 stated the same as WP ORANGE, a extended period of raids while the Pacific Fleet was built up. Nimitz followed the same general plan as outlined in WP ORANGE.

    OTL the raids dropped off after April when the USN started confronting the IJN head on in May. But, there was no reason raiding could not be continued through the summer and autumn. In the context of Army-Navy tensions the raids were significant. The embarrassment of the Tokyo raids by the Dolittle Group is commonly understood. It lost the Navy a lot of face & political traction. Equally significant was the March strike on the reinforcement convoy to New Guinea. This less known operation did not sink many ships, but did scatter the cargo convoy and caused the cargo to be diverted to safe ports for several weeks, months in a few cases. This interception of the essential renforcement of the New Guinea operation was a earlier severe embarrassment of the IJA in the Armies view. The other raids were internally disturbing to the IJN, but it was able to 'mitigate' the political effects as they were on distant navy controlled locations or operations. Within the Navy there was significant distress over the raids as they continued. The January raid was one thing, but the catastrophic attack on the February raid of Admiral Brown. A 95% loss rate by the elite attacking navy bomber group was a shock to the IJN officers who were aware of the battle.

    Raids would have been tricker with the smaller less capable CVE, but worth planning and attempting under the right circumstances. There is a question from me about the USN submarine force. Would the usefulness of the fleet subs in long range raiding operations, that is picking off IJN warships ect... bring a earlier recognition of the torpedo problem. OTL it remained a internal fight within the submarine fleet. Nimitz & others were wrapped up in the major fleet battles of latter 1942 and the Solomons battles of 1943. With raids being a larger portion of 1942-43 ops could the torpedo problem gain the attention of admirals outside the submarine community?
     
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  18. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    The Japanese 17th Army units on Guadacanal literally starved to death. Does anyone here seriously think the Japanese navy could have supported far more extended operations?
     
  19. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Bingo.
     
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  20. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    The Japanese would need some mighty big Alien Space Mammals to pull this one off.