Could Japan have won at Midway? And if so, what would change?

I think that Japan could have successfully taken the island if they put more emphasis on using their aircraft and ships and blow apart the islands defense. It still would be notable casualties, but Japan could pull it off.
 
Just attempting to take Oahu would have required roughly double the personnel that the IJA devoted to the entire Southern Resource Area. It would also require the Japanese to conduct an opposed, heavily opposed at that, landing 3,700 miles from Japan and 2,500 miles from their nearest basing in the Marshalls. Logistically, I am unsure if any country, including the United State in 1945 could have managed that.
I think the USN in 1945 *could* have done it.

But you are right that the distances involved would have involved a considerably larger logistic tail than Okinawa (the most obvious counterpart I can come up with for 1945) did. For starters, the USN would have to suspend MacArthur's ops in Philippines and Borneo to free up the needed shipping.

But the IJN, tackling Oahu? Even in December 1941? How the blazes do they sustain weeks of amphibious ops and air cover? Getting the men there is pretty much the LEAST of their problems, and given what THAT would have taken, that's a pretty damning state of affairs.

Glenn239 took the most exhaustive effort at trying to paint what it could have looked like, and all TINKERBELL did for me was to demonstrate how impossible it would have been - and how suicidal for Japan to attempt.
 
I think that Japan could have successfully taken the island if they put more emphasis on using their aircraft and ships and blow apart the islands defense. It still would be notable casualties, but Japan could pull it off.
Are you talking about Midway Atoll, or Oahu?
 
I think that Japan could have successfully taken the island if they put more emphasis on using their aircraft and ships and blow apart the islands defense. It still would be notable casualties, but Japan could pull it off.
For Japan to take the Midway Island would require a POD before the Battle of Midway. It could not just be their winning the naval battle. Even if the Enterprise and the Yorktown vanished into thin air, the landing parties would enter a meatgrinder. At any rate, the major consequence of Japan winning the battle of Midway isn't capturing the island, because that wouldn't happen with that POD. It's that their carriers would be around a bit longer. They'd still go down. There's not way Japan could win a war with the USA. Given Japan's lack of natural resources, all of the PODs I can think of that could potentially give them that capability would be hundreds of years in the past, and have so many butterflies that the Asia-Pacific war would not be recognizable. Imperial Japan can have earlier PODs than Germany whilst still being recognizable, but not that far back.
 
For Japan to take the Midway Island would require a POD before the Battle of Midway. It could not just be their winning the naval battle. Even if the Enterprise and the Yorktown vanished into thin air, the landing parties would enter a meatgrinder. At any rate, the major consequence of Japan winning the battle of Midway isn't capturing the island, because that wouldn't happen with that POD. It's that their carriers would be around a bit longer. They'd still go down. There's not way Japan could win a war with the USA. Given Japan's lack of natural resources, all of the PODs I can think of that could potentially give them that capability would be hundreds of years in the past, and have so many butterflies that the Asia-Pacific war would not be recognizable. Imperial Japan can have earlier PODs than Germany whilst still being recognizable, but not that far back.
Interesting. Real quick, since I am knew and I have seen this quite a bit, what does POD mean? I know it has to do with a time when something changes (at least I think), but I am unsure of its exact meaning.
 
Interesting. Real quick, since I am knew and I have seen this quite a bit, what does POD mean? I know it has to do with a time when something changes (at least I think), but I am unsure of its exact meaning.
Point of divergence. Generally it means the first time things go different. If there's only one divergence, that means all other differences are a result of that first POD, but sometimes people write timelines with multiple PODs.
 

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You know I enjoy chatting with you, HL, but . . . I just completely disagree with that assessment, from start to finish.
Thank you for the compliment; it's always nice when I can have a disagreement with someone but it still be an enjoyable conversation due to mutual respect.

The Japanese can secure Guadalcanal in the absence of WATCHTOWER, obviously, though by itself that doesn't give them real capability to interfere with American supply lines to Australia or New Zealand. Bettys can reach that far, but they weren't great anti-shipping weapons, they would only have had a couple dozen thre at most, and they would have been flying into Allied dominatd air space without any fighter escort for much of the flight.
There's no land based fighters that can offer much cover for sea borne shipping at this time given the distances but, more importantly, it only takes a few Japanese successes. See PQ-17 for a contemporary example of the Allies having one disaster and then forced to make serious adjustments just due to the threat.

The Japanese have no appreciable chance to take Port Moresby by August (or later) given the size of the Australian garrison there at that point and the weakness of IJN and IJA logistics. They could have done it in the spring, possibly.
I didn't really put a timeframe on it, so I could accept the Spring '43 idea but I still think earlier is possible. With IJAAF airbases in the Solomons, the logistics to Port Moresby are under threat and now there is the added danger that the IJN can flank it via either side with no American carriers to counter them.

It will take more than a Midway defeat to make Roosevelt abandon "Germany First," no matter how much grumbling West Coast governors engage in. That's clear from the record. There isn't much of value they can divert from TORCH that would be of value beyond RANGER, and even that can be substituted by the Brits with one of their decks. You'll see a handful more Baltimore-class conversions to Independence-class CVL's, and some additional beefing up of Pacific garrisons, but otherwise, not that massive of a shift.
Firmly disagree here.

In February of 1943, 53% of Americans according to Gallup listed Japan as the number one enemy. In light of an unchecked Japan, the political necessity for the diversion of further resources to the Pacific would become acute; it's not just the people on the West Coast with this view, as the overall numbers show. Unlike OTL 1943, however, ATL 1942 has an unchecked Japan and is a Midterms year. If the national vote shifted overall just 1% further Republican, the following Congressional races would flip:

California 11
California 23
Illinois 2
Illinois 7
Indiana 11
Kentucky 7
Massachusetts 3
Minnesota 9
New York 16
Oklahoma 2
Pennsylvania 2
Pennsylvania 3
Pennsylvania 25
Utah 1
West Virginia 2
Wyoming At Large

That's 16 seats in total, and given their OTL win of 209 seats, more than sufficient to take control of the House. In the Senate, Montana and Colorado would both be flipped; enough to prevent cloture on filibusters, IIRC. FDR can't ignore this political threat here at all if he maintains Germany First. Adding to this, Marshall was already calling for a Japan First strategy anyway since London had vetoed an invasion of France.

If Nagumo's losses of air crew and decks at Midway are negligible, they probably try some variant of Operation FS in August-September. But given the limits of IJN logistics and the strength of air forces in the New Hebrides, it's highly unlikely they can get farther than Efate, and only at heavy risk to their carriers. Taking New Caledonia, Fiji, or Samoa by that point is impossible for the Japanese.
Sure.

In this case, it is far more likely Nimitz simply skips the Solomons, beyond perhaps air and submarine attacks on IJN forces there. Strategically, the Solomons don't have any real value. But Micronesia has some.
Not politically tenable in the long run given the pressure on Australia.

Japan is utterly and completely overmatched in warmaking power and natural resources, and it's going to lose the war, completely. Jon Parshall is right: Midway cannot really be decisive in this regard, because Japan had lost the war the moment the first bomb fell on Pearl Harbor.
In terms of winning, I'm totally in agreement. I just think Japan can lose much less than it did ATL compared to OTL.

I agree on this point, because on both Hellcat/Corsair development and CVE construction the US were already going flat out by summer 1942. There is not much slack room here.

But the US could convert as many as an additional half dozen Baltimores to Independence CVLs and have them in theater by late 1943, based on what was in the slipways. (I tend to think it would be more like another 3-4.) Not as good as an Essex, but still very valuable. That's upwards of another 250 additional aircraft you can add to your fast carrier task force, which is not far off what Nagumo brought to Midway, FWIW.
I've always expected the U.S. in such scenarios would do a free trial runs in late 1943, and then go for a major offensive in 1944 when they have sufficient carriers. With an unbloodied IJN and a green USN, it's going to be an absolute slugfest.
 
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By the time the Japanese could try to advance in the south Pacific area, there were plenty of forces there or heading there to stop them cold. Carl Schwamberger made a detailed summary of the units that were in or enroute to the south Pacific in another Midway thread:
I wouldn't count on that, given the OTL Japanese experience of what happens when your opponent had superior naval capabilities and uses them to isolate your garrisons logistically.

And even if somehow the IJN miraculously takes all of the objectives of Op FS and takes Fiji it is still 2600 kms from Fiji to Wellington. Convoys would only have to sail further south to avoid any Japanese air attacks from Fiji - assuming the Japanese can find convoys in the wide open Pacific expanses. There will be no 'isolation' of NZ and Australia, period even with incredibly lucky Japanese performance.
This is a decisive Japanese win if they force the Allies to do that route, even if they don't sink a single bit of tonnage. If it takes you four weeks to deliver the same amount of cargo you used to do in two weeks, your tonnage has been halved; that's even if your enemy fails to sink a single ship. The problem is also that it doesn't matter what route you use to avoid the Japanese, as this diversion strategy eliminates many Australian ports.
 

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Yeah, but the Allies weren't.
I wouldn't be so sure of that:

In one way or another, George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army's Chief of Staff, had long been expecting a sharp reduction in military morale. He had witnessed, as aide-decamp to General John J. Pershing, America's mood after World War I. Once Germany asked for an armistice (and before it signed a surrender), Congress and the public had demanded a swift demobilization. This indelible memory of November 1918 shaped Marshall's resolve to minimize military responsibilities after the Nazi capitulation. In Europe, this meant an end to operations in the eastern Mediterranean, where internal political conflicts and instabilities might require a large and long-term occupation by an army about to be drastically reduced in size. In the Pacific, the Japanese would have to be beaten into a position where their surrender would occur shortly after V-E Day. Otherwise, there might not be a capitulation at all, something Marshall predicted in 1943: "the collapse of Germany would impose partial demobilization and a growing impatience ... throughout the United States." This mood could lead to a compromise settlement along the lines the Japanese Army was hoping to obtain: that is, the retention of the core empire it still occupied (Formosa, Manchuria, and Korea) and no change in the political institutions of Japan.2
America's military timing was exceptionally good, considering the enormous perplexities of the war. When Germany surrendered in May, the United States had already made what Marshall called the "preparation for the final kill." Its armed forces surrounded the home islands of Japan from the south and the east. It had also obtained from Russia a pledge to attack the Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria, thereby completing the ironclad blockade that the U.S. Navy once planned to execute alone. However, the denial of imports of strategic items, from oil to coal and protein, did not mean that a mere mop-up operation was in the works, Most of the U.S. military, especially the Army, conducted planning on the premise "that defeat of the enemy's armed forces in the Japanese homeland is a prerequisite to unconditional surrender." Even before Japan strongly reinforced Kyushu, the first home island the United States would invade, the American military calculated that America would still have to conduct the toughest landings and follow-up battles seen in World War II --- actions that would likely result in some 200,000 casualties and 50,000 fatalities.3 Admiral William D. Leahy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an advocate of the blockade strategy, would later complain that "the Army did not appear to be able to understand that the Navy, with some Army air assistance, already had defeated Japan."​
The flaw in Leahy's argument was that the Japanese Imperial Army refused to accept the fact that it had lost the war, at least by the standard of unconditional surrender. That demand was completely unacceptable to an institution that ordered wounded soldiers to commit suicide rather than become prisoners of war.4 Leahy admitted however, that there was "little prospect of obtaining unconditional surrender" in 1945, Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, would write that the Navy "in the course of time would have starved the Japanese into submission" (Italics mine). Time, however, was a waning asset, especially to Marshall, who would later say that American "political and economic institutions melted out from under us [the U.S. military]". The Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion told the JCS what magazines and newspapers had been printing since late 1944: there was overwhelming public pressure to increase production of consumer goods. I am "afraid of unrest in the country," said Director Fred Vinson. I have never seen "the people in their present frame of mind." Aside from reports about the "national end-of-the-war psychology among [the] citizens" of the United States, the JCS heard from its own military intelligence community. Their best estimate was that total victory through encirclement, blockade, and bombardment might well take "a great many years."5​
 
I wouldn't be so sure of that:

In one way or another, George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army's Chief of Staff, had long been expecting a sharp reduction in military morale. He had witnessed, as aide-decamp to General John J. Pershing, America's mood after World War I. Once Germany asked for an armistice (and before it signed a surrender), Congress and the public had demanded a swift demobilization. This indelible memory of November 1918 shaped Marshall's resolve to minimize military responsibilities after the Nazi capitulation. In Europe, this meant an end to operations in the eastern Mediterranean, where internal political conflicts and instabilities might require a large and long-term occupation by an army about to be drastically reduced in size. In the Pacific, the Japanese would have to be beaten into a position where their surrender would occur shortly after V-E Day. Otherwise, there might not be a capitulation at all, something Marshall predicted in 1943: "the collapse of Germany would impose partial demobilization and a growing impatience ... throughout the United States." This mood could lead to a compromise settlement along the lines the Japanese Army was hoping to obtain: that is, the retention of the core empire it still occupied (Formosa, Manchuria, and Korea) and no change in the political institutions of Japan.2
America's military timing was exceptionally good, considering the enormous perplexities of the war. When Germany surrendered in May, the United States had already made what Marshall called the "preparation for the final kill." Its armed forces surrounded the home islands of Japan from the south and the east. It had also obtained from Russia a pledge to attack the Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria, thereby completing the ironclad blockade that the U.S. Navy once planned to execute alone. However, the denial of imports of strategic items, from oil to coal and protein, did not mean that a mere mop-up operation was in the works, Most of the U.S. military, especially the Army, conducted planning on the premise "that defeat of the enemy's armed forces in the Japanese homeland is a prerequisite to unconditional surrender." Even before Japan strongly reinforced Kyushu, the first home island the United States would invade, the American military calculated that America would still have to conduct the toughest landings and follow-up battles seen in World War II --- actions that would likely result in some 200,000 casualties and 50,000 fatalities.3 Admiral William D. Leahy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an advocate of the blockade strategy, would later complain that "the Army did not appear to be able to understand that the Navy, with some Army air assistance, already had defeated Japan."​
The flaw in Leahy's argument was that the Japanese Imperial Army refused to accept the fact that it had lost the war, at least by the standard of unconditional surrender. That demand was completely unacceptable to an institution that ordered wounded soldiers to commit suicide rather than become prisoners of war.4 Leahy admitted however, that there was "little prospect of obtaining unconditional surrender" in 1945, Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, would write that the Navy "in the course of time would have starved the Japanese into submission" (Italics mine). Time, however, was a waning asset, especially to Marshall, who would later say that American "political and economic institutions melted out from under us [the U.S. military]". The Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion told the JCS what magazines and newspapers had been printing since late 1944: there was overwhelming public pressure to increase production of consumer goods. I am "afraid of unrest in the country," said Director Fred Vinson. I have never seen "the people in their present frame of mind." Aside from reports about the "national end-of-the-war psychology among [the] citizens" of the United States, the JCS heard from its own military intelligence community. Their best estimate was that total victory through encirclement, blockade, and bombardment might well take "a great many years."5​
I know, but you've quoted this source before, and, no disrespect, but I'm just not buying it. I think Marshall consistently overstated the American public's war weariness.

It's hardly even obvious, in fact, that a scenario where the United States draws a loss at Midway - a naval loss, that is, since Kondo ain't taking Midway (and you can bet your life savings that John Ford's footage of Shannon's Marines heroically repelling the Japanese invasion would be blanketing American cinemas by the end of the summer) - would even see the war end any later than it did in OTL, since it is just as likely - more likely, I think - that both Nimitz and MacArthur just end up doing more island hopping to accelerate the drive on Tokyo.

And in OTL, we should be damned glad - and I know I am editorializing here - that the United States didn't. A world where the military dictatorship of Japan survived the war intact does not bear easy thinking about.
 
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I know, but you've quoted this source before, and, no disrespect, but I'm just not buying it. I think Marshall consistently overstated the American public's war weariness.

It's hardly even obvious, in fact, that a scenario where the United States draws a loss at Midway - a naval loss, that is, since Kondo ain't taking Midway - would even see the war end any later than it did in OTL, since it is just as likely - more likely, I think - that both Nimitz and MacArthur just end up doing more island hopping to accelerate the drive on Tokyo.

And in OTL, we should be damned glad - and I know I am editorializing here - that the United States didn't. A world where the military dictatorship of Japan survived the war intact does not bear easy thinking about.
It wasn't just Marshall though. Indeed, further in the source:

According to Leahy's notes at the Washington Conference (May 1943), "the grand strategy of the war remained fixed on achieving unconditional surrender of the Axis powers in Europe while [only?] maintaining pressure on Japan to secure positions from which her ultimate surrender could be forced." At the Cairo Conference (November 1943), the communiqué drafted by Harry Hopkins, at Roosevelt's instruction, made the obligatory demand for unconditional surrender. Then, it set specific stipulations, consistent with a series of position papers. drafted by State Department professionals and Asia specialists. None of the points were draconian, at least compared to those imposed on Germany. Japan was to be "stripped of all" its overseas conquests, presumably to quarantine a nation that Roosevelt believed was genetically disposed towards acts of lawless violence. The president's policy of isolating Japan from the rest of Asia may have smacked of political eugenics, but nothing was said about occupation, demilitarization, war trials, or the emperor of Japan. Nor was there any hint of the worst fear of one JCS intelligence officer: a bloody invasion of the home island that would destroy the imperial Japanese government before it could negotiate a peace.14​
The Cairo communiqué was certainly not good news in Tokyo. Prime Minister Hideki Tojo said it meant Japan was to be reduced to a third-rate state. But he said nothing about what other Japanese would dread: that unconditional surrender meant the destruction of the nation and the ruin of the Japanese race. These Japanese officials made a mistake in assuming that the communiqué was just American propaganda, not a serious statement of terms.15 Specific conditions that the Cairo communiqué mentioned and omitted were not inadvertent.​
That November (1943), Roosevelt had asked China to conduct the postwar occupation of Japan. Its leader, Chiang Kai-shek, wanted an Allied pledge to punish the Japanese as war criminals, yet be dodged responsibility for occupation duty, deferring it back to the United States. He and Roosevelt then agreed "that as soon as Japan's military power has been broken, the Japanese in Japan proper would be permitted to work out their own destiny without outside direction." In short, there would be no occupation, let alone transformation of a society, such as Roosevelt planned for Germany. There, a generation was to be fed from U.S. Army trucks so that they would learn how badly they had been beaten -- far cry from the plan for the Far East that Roosevelt and Stalin made at Teheran. The Allies would only control "islands in the vicinity of Japan," hoping this would suffice to deter and prevent a renewed "course of aggression."16

Further along:

After Franklin Roosevelt died on 12 April, the new president, Harry S. Truman, told his military advisers about his hopes "of preventing an Okinawa from one end of Japan to the other." He probably overstated the danger, fearing the invasion could kill 500,000 Americans, "the flower of our young manhood," This is not surprising when one remembers the last time the new commander in chief, a former Army captain, commanded anyone in battle. In the fall of 1918, the Germans, outnumbered but dug in, were supposedly tottering on the brink of defeat. Nonetheless, during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, they killed or Wounded almost half the soldiers in Truman's 35th Infantry Division. Twenty years later, he vividly recalled a "pile of [dead] American soldiers in all sorts of ghastly positions and an old hard boiled sergeant" who yelled at Truman's battery: "Now you sons of bitches, you'll believe you're in a war."18​
To mitigate American casualties in Japan, the civilian leaders of the War Department recommended removing demands for unconditional surrender. The United States could accomplish "everything we want to accomplish in regard to Japan without the use of the term," which would only inflict a humiliating "stigma" and "loss of face" on Japan's ruling bodies. They advised Truman to settle for "the equivalent of unconditional surrender," by which America could still fulfill its "vital war objective of preventing Japan front again becoming a menace to world peace." This was reminiscent of Roosevelt in 1943. lt also meant the transformation and retention of the emperor as "a constitutional monarch," in the words of Henry Stimson, "a kindly minded Christian gentleman" who was the secretary of war. Like most other people in the government who did not want a fight to the finish, Stimson believed that Emperor Hirohito was a silent partner and a passive witness in a political system "under the complete dominance of the Japanese Army," which allegedly ruled in the name of the "Emperor-God."19​
Despite well-intentioned attempts to whitewash Hirohito, the emperor was an active participant in Japan's military-political complex. Stimson and company, not knowing much about his complicity, petitioned Truman not to attempt governing the island "in any such matter as we are committed in Germany." The War Department's wish to govern Japan through the Japanese government now apparently got a renewed lease on life. When Truman made his first public demands on the enemy, he asked for "unconditional surrender" solely from the military, As for the American military, it already felt itself too involved in European government, reform, and relief; the United States did not appear to have the endurance to take on more political missions. Indeed, the War Department wondered if it had the perseverance to carry on the war. Since December 1944, Stimson bewailed "the curious characteristic of our noble people," who are already failing quotas for scrap paper and victory gardens. "They have no more notion that they are in a war [where] sacrifices are needed--just so many children," he told George Marshall. However, what Stimson sensed in the civilian population was nothing compared to what he observed in army units redeploying from Europe to the Pacific: "These men were weary in a way that no one merely reading reports could readily understand."20
 
Firmly disagree here.

In February of 1943, 53% of Americans according to Gallup listed Japan as the number one enemy. In light of an unchecked Japan, the political necessity for the diversion of further resources to the Pacific would become acute; it's not just the people on the West Coast with this view, as the overall numbers show. Unlike OTL 1943, however, ATL 1942 has an unchecked Japan and is a Midterms year. If the national vote shifted overall just 1% further Republican, the following Congressional races would flip:

California 11
California 23
Illinois 2
Illinois 7
Indiana 11
Kentucky 7
Massachusetts 3
Minnesota 9
New York 16
Oklahoma 2
Pennsylvania 2
Pennsylvania 3
Pennsylvania 25
Utah 1
West Virginia 2
Wyoming At Large

That's 16 seats in total, and given their OTL win of 209 seats, more than sufficient to take control of the House. In the Senate, Montana and Colorado would both be flipped; enough to prevent cloture on filibusters, IIRC. FDR can't ignore this political threat here at all if he maintains Germany First. Adding to this, Marshall was already calling for a Japan First strategy anyway since London had vetoed an invasion of France.
I'm going to reply to this bit by way of also responding to your last post.

As I believe I've said before, I think Pearlman played fast and loose with his sources, selectively quoting where necessary to paint a picture of overwhelming war weariness in America by summer of 1945, and worse, fearful appreciation by some by senior leaders in the Truman Administration. I don't think the balance of evidence bears that out, no matter how many industrial strikes you can point to.

I think you also fail to provide an appreciation for the depth of Roosevelt's commitment to "Germany First." The record here, from Roosevelt's own correspondence and eyewitness testimony, is extensive. And Roosevelt, a wartime president who had fought and won three landslide elections to the presidency and, more amazingly, had never lost either house of Congress in that time, was notably bulwarked against public opinion, especially given that even as late as mid-summer, polling suggested that Democrats might actually *gain* seats in the House. In a scenario where the U.S. loses at Midway, we can't so easily characterize how it would be received back home, since the Navy - while more honest than its Japanese counterpart - was not going to provide a comprehensive or detailed picture of losses on both sides, but it *would* play up the propaganda value (complete with John Ford's on-the-scene footage) of the Marine demolition of Kondo's invasion, which would look like Wake Island times five. We also don't know how U.S. strategy would have adjusted to this alt-Midway, but it is hard to think that Nimitz would simply stand pat. And, above all, it would likely push Roosevelt even harder in Germany's direction, since TORCH was the one obvious major operation in the hopper that the Allies could mount and reasonably count on quick success for - and FDR would, even more than in OTL, want to see it moved up a few weeks, to be sure to have an impact before the November midterms. (And Churchill, being sensitive to the need to keep Roosevelt on side, would be as accommodating as he was in OTL.)

Also, there is not evidence of a consistent push by congressional Republican candidates for an explicit switch to a "Japan First" strategy.

Could the GOP have won the House in 1942 in the wake of a U.S. defeat at Midway? Sure. It's possible. Obviously in OTL they came fairly close to doing so. But in the first place it has to be perceived by Roosevelt that this is a likelihood. And in the second place, it actually has to force Roosevelt to make a fundamental switch in war strategy, a switch would risk a grave breach with both of its wartime allies - Britain and the USSR. And doing so, no less, at a time (summer 1942) where the Soviet Union looked like it was on its last legs. "Hey Joe, I know you've got your backs to the wall at the Volga, but we really need to focus on Japan for a few years here. You can hang on, can't you?" They were afraid enough as it was that Stalin would make a separate peace that fall even *with* a Germany First strategy.

The question of the public's perception of who was Enemy #1 is an interesting one. Through 1942, the public consistently saw Germany in that slot. It was only in early 1943 that there was a dramatic shift to Japan, and it looks like the reason why had much to do with Soviet successes on the Eastern front at Stalingrad and the Caucasus (though one has to think that TORCH played a role, too). Allow me to excerpt some things from "Japan: An American Problem," by Louise Merrick van Patten, Far Eastern Survey Vol. 14, No. 9 (May 9, 1945), pp. 114-117:

Merrick 1.png


But there's much more interesting things than that in von Patten's survey, which she published in May 1945. Because what polls also showed was that the public was much more hostile in its perception of the Japanese - something that also cuts against emerging war weariness. The public, across the board, wanted the Japanese to pay, and pay good and hard, an attitude that remained strong as ever by spring of 1945 - a sentiment driven no doubt in part by racialist attitudes as much as by Pearl Harbor and treatment of American POW's:

Merrick von Patten 2.png


Note that bit: "13 percent who would kill all the people of Japan left alive when the war is over." Yikes.

Note that Gallup didnt even have a significant response to any option that looked like a Versailles treatment. Half the country wanted Japan hacked up. A little over a third favored something that looked like what the U.S. actually did after the war.

A pity that Pearlman never incorporated discussion of this aspect of American public opinion in the last year of the war.
 
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One other thing I overlooked I would like to address:

The Japanese have no appreciable chance to take Port Moresby by August (or later) given the size of the Australian garrison there at that point and the weakness of IJN and IJA logistics. They could have done it in the spring, possibly.

I didn't really put a timeframe on it, so I could accept the Spring '43 idea but I still think earlier is possible. With IJAAF airbases in the Solomons, the logistics to Port Moresby are under threat and now there is the added danger that the IJN can flank it via either side with no American carriers to counter them.
What I actually meant here was the spring of 1942, not 1943. In short Operation MO, or some variant of it. Because much of the Australian reinforcement of Moresby only came in the summer.

Preparations were made in the summer of 1942 for dislodging the Japanese from Buna, on the northeast coast of Papua, and General MacArthur on 11 August 1942 designated Port Moresby—code name MAPLE —the U.S. Advanced Base. At the time, the defense force consisted mainly of Australians—a Royal Australian Air Force squadron and about 3,000 infantrymen sent up from Australia early in 1942 as a consequence of the Japanese occupation of Rabaul, Lae, and Salamaua. The Americans on the scene in August 1942 were air, antiaircraft, or service units. In late April 1942 two American fighter groups had been dispatched to relieve the weary RAAF units, and they were followed by an antiaircraft battalion, several Engineer units to improve the two existing airstrips and build new ones, and some Ordnance troops, including, by July, an Ordnance aviation (air base) company, the 703d, an 11-man detachment of the 25th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company to service the antiaircraft guns, and detachments of two ammunition companies, the 59th and 55th.2 Along with the Australians, the Americans came under New Guinea Force (NGF), created in mid-April 1942 by General Sir Thomas Blarney, the Australian appointed by General MacArthur to command Allied Land Forces. At first New Guinea Force was commanded by Maj. Gen. Basil Morris, head of the Australia-New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU), the service that supplanted civil government in Papua when white residents were evacuated or called into military service. In mid-August New Guinea Force came under another Australian, Maj. Gen. Sydney F. Rowell, who was in command until 24 September, when General Blarney took over. General Blarney created Advance New Guinea Force and placed it under the command of Australian Lt. Gen. Edmund F. Herring.3
Rowell's New Guinea Force had been considerably augmented the third week in August by the arrival of elements of the 7th Australian Infantry Division, a unit called back to Australia from the Middle East and ordered by MacArthur to New Guinea after the Japanese landings near Buna in late July. Of the two brigades ordered to Port Moresby, one arrived 19 August and immediately began moving up the trail over the Owen Stanleys to reinforce the troops attempting to deny the trail to the Japanese advancing from Buna. Another brigade was landed on 21 August at Milne Bay where a force was being built up, including American engineer and antiaircraft troops, to improve and protect airfields.​
The two Australian brigades of veterans from the Middle East arrived just in time. The Japanese, strongly reinforced at Buna from Rabaul, launched an offensive across the mountains toward Port Moresby on 26 August and at the same time landed a seaborne force, dispatched from Rabaul, at Milne Bay.​

More reinforcements followed. MacArthur sent in the U.S. 32nd Division in mid-September. And so on.

Now by this point, we are, granted, in an Alt-timeline. Stuff will start to change. But the point is, MacArthur and the Australians had the ability to reinforce Moresby significantly in the summer and fall, and it is very hard to see how they wouldn't feel more obliged to do so here. And given 1) the difficulties that the Owen Stanleys posed to Japanese air interdiction over Moresby and surrounding sea lanes, and 2) the fact that the Kido Butai could not possibly be ready for an operation in the area any sooner than that even after a pretty big win at Midway - I mean, it could be sent directly, but Yamamoto had planned on a return to Japan for refit, to be joined by Zuikaku and Shokaku - it is hard to see how the Japanese could interfere consistently with such reinforcement.

The other point is, it's certainly not true that Nimitz has no carriers to interject into the area. Even with a total wipeout at Midway (the OP does not specify US losses), he'd have Wasp and Saratoga on hand by July, and if Ranger is dispatched post haste, its feasible for it to be on hand by August. That is not a match for the full Kido Butai (assuming Nagumo keeps all of his decks, which is not specified in the OP), but it is a reasonably formidable force, especially if Spruance is still around to wield it; and American Magic intercepts would probably give him the heads up needed to put these in the Coral Sea at the right time to at least try a flanking parry. It is also far from inconceivable that Churchill could be induced to send over one of Somerville's carriers from the Indian Ocean - an anticipation of the "USS Robin" loan of OTL - to add to Nimitz's carrier group.

In any event, it's difficult to conceive that even with the Kido Butai on hand, that it could easily take Port Moresby at any point from th 3Q of 1942 onward. The geography and logistics work hard against Japan. I have long said in the forums here that, nonetheless, it is the one offensive strategic move I would likely take in the wake of a win at Midway, just the same, because it is the one with the best chance of success. But I'd do it as fast as I possibly could. Every week works to MacArthur's advantage. Winter of 1943 is just too late.
 
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History Learner

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I'm going to reply to this bit by way of also responding to your last post.

As I believe I've said before, I think Pearlman played fast and loose with his sources, selectively quoting where necessary to paint a picture of overwhelming war weariness in America by summer of 1945, and worse, fearful appreciation by some by senior leaders in the Truman Administration. I don't think the balance of evidence bears that out, no matter how many industrial strikes you can point to.
To boil it down to just "industrial strikes" is to create a Strawman. Both Fred Vinson and Henry Stimson both make particular note of the state of overall morale of the American public, buttressing the points made by Marshall; all of these men had ready access to polling data as well to confirm what they were seeing and hearing. That Truman echoed this speaks volumes, and forces us to pick between two options:

A) Everyone was completely and utterly incompetent
B) They were correct and the evidence, as they said, was leaning in this direction

Obviously I lean towards B and in that prospective, American actions in 1945 make perfect sense. If you have no doubts about the continued endurance of American morale, the invasion of Japan is borderline insanity; the starve and bomb strategy in that case is by far the proper course of action. Why would everyone in the U.S. command structure thus support such a high casualty operation? The simple-and most likely answer is that, indeed, public morale was weakening and American leadership realized the war needed to be decisively won and soon.

I think you also fail to provide an appreciation for the depth of Roosevelt's commitment to "Germany First." The record here, from Roosevelt's own correspondence and eyewitness testimony, is extensive. And Roosevelt, a wartime president who had fought and won three landslide elections to the presidency and, more amazingly, had never lost either house of Congress in that time, was notably bulwarked against public opinion, especially given that even as late as mid-summer, polling suggested that Democrats might actually *gain* seats in the House. In a scenario where the U.S. loses at Midway, we can't so easily characterize how it would be received back home, since the Navy - while more honest than its Japanese counterpart - was not going to provide a comprehensive or detailed picture of losses on both sides, but it *would* play up the propaganda value (complete with John Ford's on-the-scene footage) of the Marine demolition of Kondo's invasion, which would look like Wake Island times five. We also don't know how U.S. strategy would have adjusted to this alt-Midway, but it is hard to think that Nimitz would simply stand pat. And, above all, it would likely push Roosevelt even harder in Germany's direction, since TORCH was the one obvious major operation in the hopper that the Allies could mount and reasonably count on quick success for - and FDR would, even more than in OTL, want to see it moved up a few weeks, to be sure to have an impact before the November midterms. (And Churchill, being sensitive to the need to keep Roosevelt on side, would be as accommodating as he was in OTL.)
I don't doubt Roosevelt's commitment, I just recognize the man didn't enjoy the same benefits Stalin, Hitler and Tojo did in terms of being able to force his opinion through no matter what given he is the leader of a Democracy. He personally might not be up for re-election, but his Party as a whole is in 1942 and if the public turns sour on him, the political retribution would be, in a word, fierce. I also think overall you're engaging in a bit of rose tinted glasses with Roosevelt; as you note, even IOTL the 1942 midterms were close and public opinion polling clearly showed-as did the actual results in 1944-that opinion on him could and did fluctuate and his continued rule was largely dependent on fears of switching leadership during the war. Case in point: see how after 1938 his domestic agenda was completely stalled out by the Conservative Coalition of Southern Democrats and the GOP.

Also, there is not evidence of a consistent push by congressional Republican candidates for an explicit switch to a "Japan First" strategy.

Could the GOP have won the House in 1942 in the wake of a U.S. defeat at Midway? Sure. It's possible. Obviously in OTL they came fairly close to doing so. But in the first place it has to be perceived by Roosevelt that this is a likelihood. And in the second place, it actually has to force Roosevelt to make a fundamental switch in war strategy, a switch would risk a grave breach with both of its wartime allies - Britain and the USSR. And doing so, no less, at a time (summer 1942) where the Soviet Union looked like it was on its last legs. "Hey Joe, I know you've got your backs to the wall at the Volga, but we really need to focus on Japan for a few years here. You can hang on, can't you?" They were afraid enough as it was that Stalin would make a separate peace that fall even *with* a Germany First strategy.
A defeat at Midway and likely following Japanese victories gives such an opening, no? See American Popular Opinion and the War Against Germany: The Issue of Negotiated Peace, 1942 by Richard W. Steele,The Journal of American History , Dec., 1978, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Dec., 1978), pp. 704-723:

The coming of war to America changed but did not destroy the peace issue. Many of those who had stubbornly resisted involvement now hoped to terminate it as quickly as possible, and apparently only a lack of organization significantly differentiated sentiment for a negotiated peace from the isolationism of 1941. Moreover, as the President quickly learned, the leadership for an effective negotiated peace movement seemed likely to emerge from the die-hard remnants of the America First Committee, particularly in the person of the isolationist national hero, Charles A. Lindbergh.​
America First officially disbanded in February, and many of its officials announced their support for the war effort. Nevertheless, the activities of some members, including Lindbergh, remained the subject of government interest and concern. In mid-February Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover informed the President that former members of the Committee had "gone underground" and were "biding their time," awaiting the opportunity to emerge again as a "political force." Hoover cited as evidence a mid-December meeting at which the renowned flyer had allegedly held forth on the yellow and Bolshevik menaces, on the foolishness of the current war in Europe, and on what might be done to reverse American policy.
According to Hoover's informant, Lindbergh declared that "when the American people, by reason of the lists of the missing and the statements of war losses, realize that they have been betrayed by the British and the Administration," the Committee should be ready to "advocate a negotiated peace." Hoover also noted that he had obtained information from other sources to the effect that the America Firsters had a "secret mailing list of 8,476,000"; that lately a "great many individuals among foreign speaking groups have been circularized"; and that the leaders of the underground organization planned to hold a "series of house parties . .. to keep alive contacts."34​

Further:

Nevertheless, the President could not rest easy, for the fate of the extremists notwithstanding, he had reason to ponder the possibility that his more respectable political enemies might use the peace issue to unsettle and embarrass the administration. In April OFF warned that in the fall congressional campaigns "subversion will probably be intermingled with politics" as both administration opponents and Nazi propagandists seek to "promote defeatism or play upon the war weariness of the people." Fleshing out this prediction was a report informing the President that three leading isolationist Republicans, Congressman Joe Martin, former Congressman Bruce Barton, and publisher Roy Howard, had "just held a secret meeting in far off Tucson," leading to speculation that they were planning an "isolationist attack" against administration war policies. A more explicit warning came to Roosevelt from a friend, New Dealer Gardiner Jackson, who told him in the fall of 1942 that the business interests behind the presidential candidacy of Thomas E. Dewey were working hard for a negotiated peace and had taken a recent conciliatory speech by Hitler as the "opening gun of the drive to call the war off. . . ." The problem raised by these reports (if true) was, as OFF warned, that even if the agitation of the peace issue could not force the administration into negotiations, it could do "much damage" by strengthening "the hand of those in Congress whose main goal is the harassment and obstruction of the President."37

As for Roosevelt, if he losses in November, the decision quickly is taken out of his hands. As it were, he was already closely following the situation and this was entirely why he wanted an offensive into North Africa. To quote from The 'Pacific-First' Alternative in American World War II Strategy by Mark A. Stoler, The International History Review, Jul., 1980, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Jul., 1980), pp. 432- 452

But these factors did not prevent a partial turn to the Pacific in 1942 and 1943 which Roosevelt supported and which clearly modified the Germany-first strategy for the duration of the war. In his 1943 biennial report to the Secretary of War, Marshall bluntly stated that for the United States, the defensive phase of the Second World War had ended not with any actions in the European theatre, but with the Guadalcanal campaign. By the end of 1943, the United States was still deploying more men against Japan than against Germany.55 Roosevelt's support for this partial strategic shift is not difficult to reconcile with his absolute refusal in July 1942 to reject formally and completely the Germany-first approach. While the President retained his strong belief in the primacy of that approach throughout the war, he was by no means blind to the political as well as military repercussions, especially at home and in China, of continued and unchecked Japanese successes. He simply did not believe that those repercussions, drastic as they might be, would be as serious as those which would follow a total overthrow of Germany first.​

The question of the public's perception of who was Enemy #1 is an interesting one. Through 1942, the public consistently saw Germany in that slot. It was only in early 1943 that there was a dramatic shift to Japan, and it looks like the reason why had much to do with Soviet successes on the Eastern front at Stalingrad and the Caucasus (though one has to think that TORCH played a role, too). Allow me to excerpt some things from "Japan: An American Problem," by Louise Merrick van Patten, Far Eastern Survey Vol. 14, No. 9 (May 9, 1945), pp. 114-117:

But there's much more interesting things than that in von Patten's survey, which she published in May 1945. Because what polls also showed was that the public was much more hostile in its perception of the Japanese - something that also cuts against emerging war weariness. The public, across the board, wanted the Japanese to pay, and pay good and hard, an attitude that remained strong as ever by spring of 1945 - a sentiment driven no doubt in part by racialist attitudes as much as by Pearl Harbor and treatment of American POW's:
To quote from Steele again:

On concentrating on the Japanese, the question asked was: "Granting that it is important for us to fight the Axis every place we can, which do you think is more important for the United States to do right now: put most of our effort into fighting Japan or put most of our effort into fighting Germany?" 62 percent responded Japan, and 21 percent Germany. Bureau of Intelligence, OFF, "Survey of Intelligence Materials," No. 21 (April 29, 1942), PSF "OWI," Roosevelt Papers.​

Note that bit: "13 percent who would kill all the people of Japan left alive when the war is over." Yikes.

Note that Gallup didnt even have a significant response to any option that looked like a Versailles treatment. Half the country wanted Japan hacked up. A little over a third favored something that looked like what the U.S. actually did after the war.

A pity that Pearlman never incorporated discussion of this aspect of American public opinion in the last year of the war.
Primarily because it doesn't really contradict the underlying issues; the public may hate Japan and want a harsh peace, but that doesn't invalidate the growing war weariness all the same. Again, either the entirety of American leadership was incompetent or they recognized a growing problem. Non-withstanding the opinions of a minority of 13%, I firmly feel the data points into the "problem" category.
 
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History Learner

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One other thing I overlooked I would like to address:

What I actually meant here was the spring of 1942, not 1943. In short Operation MO, or some variant of it. Because much of the Australian reinforcement of Moresby only came in the summer.

More reinforcements followed. MacArthur sent in the U.S. 32nd Division in mid-September. And so on.
The fundamental problem is, however, that New Guinea is an island far away from both the U.S. and even Australia and is thus, as all islands are during warfare, dependent on SLOCs. Beyond having air bases in the Solomons upon which to threaten said SLOCs, the Kido Butai is available and there isn't much in the way of a counter at this point to that. MacArthur can send all the divisions he want, but without logistics, it's a pointless exercise.

Now by this point, we are, granted, in an Alt-timeline. Stuff will start to change. But the point is, MacArthur and the Australians had the ability to reinforce Moresby significantly in the summer and fall, and it is very hard to see how they wouldn't feel more obliged to do so here. And given 1) the difficulties that the Owen Stanleys posed to Japanese air interdiction over Moresby and surrounding sea lanes, and 2) the fact that the Kido Butai could not possibly be ready for an operation in the area any sooner than that even after a pretty big win at Midway - I mean, it could be sent directly, but Yamamoto had planned on a return to Japan for refit, to be joined by Zuikaku and Shokaku - it is hard to see how the Japanese could interfere consistently with such reinforcement.

The other point is, it's certainly not true that Nimitz has no carriers to interject into the area. Even with a total wipeout at Midway (the OP does not specify US losses), he'd have Wasp and Saratoga on hand by July, and if Ranger is dispatched post haste, its feasible for it to be on hand by August. That is not a match for the full Kido Butai (assuming Nagumo keeps all of his decks, which is not specified in the OP), but it is a reasonably formidable force, especially if Spruance is still around to wield it; and American Magic intercepts would probably give him the heads up needed to put these in the Coral Sea at the right time to at least try a flanking parry. It is also far from inconceivable that Churchill could be induced to send over one of Somerville's carriers from the Indian Ocean - an anticipation of the "USS Robin" loan of OTL - to add to Nimitz's carrier group.
Sure, they could do this and indeed, I even expect them to; such, however, makes Operation TORCH impossible as I said previously by stripping it off air cover. It would be under the aegis of a Pacific-First Strategy, necessarily.

In any event, it's difficult to conceive that even with the Kido Butai on hand, that it could easily take Port Moresby at any point from th 3Q of 1942 onward. The geography and logistics work hard against Japan. I have long said in the forums here that, nonetheless, it is the one offensive strategic move I would likely take in the wake of a win at Midway, just the same, because it is the one with the best chance of success. But I'd do it as fast as I possibly could. Every week works to MacArthur's advantage. Winter of 1943 is just too late.
Both approaches are now screened by Japanese airpower and the IJN has naval superiority; they stand a good chance of choking off the logistics to it and, of course, they can always attempt an updated Operation MO later on once the Commonwealth and American forces there are sufficiently weakened.
 
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