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

Ok. Lets say the Japanese manages to destroy Yorktown and one or both of Hornet and Enterprise for the loss of one to two of their carriers. USA still have Saratoga at Hawaii and Wasp in the Atlantic. Wasp is transfered to the west coast to keep the locals happy. Midway might fall or not.

Japan now gets time to reinforce their defenses as USA is in no position to stop them from building at Gudacanal.

The population of USA might think that the Japanese are to strong to fight and protests begin to a settlement.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Based on what @CalBear commented on above. It sounds like the IJN must have really lowered their standards some time after Midway. The IJN pilots in the "Mariannas Turkey Shoot" were obviously not that well trained.
The IJN first team was mostly lost operating from land bases in the Solomons or over PNG & Rabaul.
 
The problem with the US government deciding to go Japan first is that the naval power necessary to win simply isn't available until 1944. So no matter what, they have nearly 2 years when then can damage the Japanese bases, destroy their air power, and attack their merchant ships.
So your saying that the USA will not send much to Europe, and instead have all those forces sitting on their backsides because they cant actually DO anything against Japan.
Doesn't make sense. The Pacific was a naval war, all they needed in the Atlantic was A/S forces. The USAAF and the Army may as well be useful in Germany and get real operational experience.
There is also the little point that the US Pacific war depends on British merchant shipping - the US merchant marine wasn't large enough. Now if you say we going to sit on our hands and give you minimal help, your a lot less likely to get those ships to transport the luxury-level of supports US troops got.

Losing at Midway would make the 1942-3 battles a lot harder, and Japan might get a few more (unsupportable) islands, but when the Essex's arrive in numbers in 1943 none of that will really matter
 
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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.
I have a lengthier reply to the rest of your two posts, but for the moment I have the time to address this point, since it's a straightforward factual clarification which can prescind from larger strategic considerations. I can't help the impression that you have a truncated view of Allied air assets employed in TORCH, and this has created some strategic confusion.

1) Naval assets. A total of 12 aircraft carriers were employed in TORCH: 5 American, and 7 British.
Western Task Force: 1 Fleet Carrier (USS Ranger) + 4 escort carriers (USS Suwanee, USS Sangamon, USS Chenango, USS Santee)​
Eastern and Central Task Forces: 4 Fleet Carriers (HMS Formidable, HMS Furious, HMS Victorious, HMS Argus) + 3 escort carriers (HMS Avenger, HMS Biter, HMS Dasher)​

2) Ground Based RAF and USAAF assets. In fact, most of the air cover for TORCH was not naval. 466 RAF and USAAF aircraft had been assembled at Gibraltar, and these provided additional air cover and then began landing on Day One at captured airfields in Morocco and Algeria. After the initial landings, these came to provide almost all of the air support for TORCH ground operations.

As we can see in turn, only one of Somerville's three fleet carriers ended up being used in TORCH - HMS Formidable. HMS Indomitable was sent off to take part in PEDESTAL, where she received two 500lb bomb hits courtesy of the Luftwaffe, and HMS Illustrious remained to undertake a decoy operation against the Andaman Islands while WATCHTOWER was underway. Thus, transfer of Illustrious to the South Pacific remains the really obvious initial redeployment. Honestly, it's a no-brainer.

Let's turn to TORCH. Given the forces that Cunningham had to cover the landings at Algiers and Oran, we can see in turn that the loss of one British fleet carrier - if that is indeed in contemplation - is hardly fatal to TORCH. If that's Ranger, that's 72 aircraft (1 CRAG, 17 VS-41, 26 VF-9, and 28 FV-41). If it's an Illustrious-class deck, that's a mix of 36 Fulmars and Albacores. Obviously, the British deck is a more bearable absence.

We do not have any agreed list of combat losses in this Alt-Midway - though presumably Nimitz has lost at least two of his carriers. The scale of the losses could affect just how the US responds in terms of redeployments, but the most likely outcome, I think, is that USS Wasp is sent to the Pacific immediately, thus giving Nimitz at least two fleet carriers (Saratoga, Wasp), and three if there's a survivor from Midway, while Ranger is kept for the Western Task Force of TORCH, where she accounts for too big a slice of US air power for the initial landings to easily dispense with, and makes the most sense for integration into an otherwise wholly US naval task force. After the TORCH landings are concluded - which in this timeline is now more like mid-October - it's near certain that Ranger and the CVE's get sent to the Pacific immediately.

The question then is whether Churchill would order Somerville to immediately send another one of his Illustrious-class decks to Nimitz in June, or more to the point, what the consequences would be if he did. At least one has to get sent to the Med for PEDESTAL. It can be a reasonable working assumption that this carrier suffers what Indomitable does in our timeline, which means a risk of effectively losing an Illustrious for TORCH, which would remove about, roughly, one sixth of Cunningham's naval air cover for the Central and Eastern TF's. It is possible, though, that the damage that Indomitable sustained could, I think, be given a rush repair job (she was sent to Norfolk for repairs OTL, and returned to the ETO in February 1943), since it only affected the lifts and upper hull, not the engines, shafts, island, or deck; it's possible that even just restoring one lift could have allowed it to participate fielding the bulk of its normal air group. Even if not, however, the loss of 36 Fulmars and Albacores is not too much of a hit from the array of air power Cunningham and Eisenhower were able to deploy for TORCH's opening phase, let alone operations afterward.

So what we could have, and what I think we *would* see, is Saratoga and Wasp available to Nimitz by July - plus any Yorktown class survivor from Midway, if there is one - plus two Illustrious-class carriers by August, with Ranger and the four CVE's reaching Pearl Harbor by December. Not quite a match for Kido Butai, and certainly not enough to start staging any counteroffensives, but if backed by any reasonable land-based airpower (say, especially if Yamamoto tries Operation FS after all) and good intel, a force strong enough to give battle. Especially if Yamamoto ain't expecting 'em.

Someone earlier mentioned the possibility of diverting Massachusetts from TORCH, too. This seems suboptimal given how important a role she played in knocking out Jean Bart and the battery at El Hank, and hardly necessary since four of the new fast battleships were already scheduled to head to Pearl that summer anyway (North Carolina, Washington, South Dakota, Indiana) and the need is really for carriers anyway.
 
Ok. Lets say the Japanese manages to destroy Yorktown and one or both of Hornet and Enterprise for the loss of one to two of their carriers.
Truth to tell, this is - pot odds - the likely Midway result.

Fletcher loses 2 Yorktowns, and perhaps the third takes some modest damage.
Nagumo loses 1 carrier, probably from CARDIV 1. Probably 30-35% air crew losses in total.

That would still be a solid win for Yamamoto.

USA still have Saratoga at Hawaii and Wasp in the Atlantic. Wasp is transfered to the west coast to keep the locals happy.
Wasp was already headed that way anyway - she reached Pearl in July.

Midway might fall or not.
I think we can say, as confidently as we can any alt-history development, that Kondo will not take Midway.

Not, mind you, that taking it really does Japan any strategic good.

Japan now gets time to reinforce their defenses as USA is in no position to stop them from building at Gudacanal.

The population of USA might think that the Japanese are to strong to fight and protests begin to a settlement.
I think even History Learner would concede that this is a gross misreading of American public commitment to the war in the summer of 1942.

Anyway, that John Ford footage of the slaughter of Ichiki's troops on the beaches of Midway will be rolling in cinemas across the fruited plains by Michaelmas.
 
Just a note on WASP, OTL she left Norfolk for the Pacific on 6 June 1942. She was always destined for the Pacific regardless of what happened at Midway.
 
The math for me comes down towards 10 new Essexes in service by summer '44 vs 1 new Japanese carrier, Taiho. I don't buy the US public caving just 6 months after Pearl, and as long as the war continues, it's only going to end one way.

The biggest ramifications IMO come if the Soviet Union has time to intervene after spring '45 (assuming the war in Europe continues as IOTL). If the Americans get delayed by a loss at Midway, the Soviets might "help" clean up China or even invade one of the northern Japanese islands and demand a seat at the table afterwards in return. A postwar North Japan/South Japan? A divided Tokyo like Berlin? The butterflies begin flapping...
 
The problem with the US government deciding to go Japan first is that the naval power necessary to win simply isn't available until 1944. So no matter what, they have nearly 2 years when then can damage the Japanese bases, destroy their air power, and attack their merchant ships.
So your saying that the USA will not send much to Europe, and instead have all those forces sitting on their backsides because they cant actually DO anything against Japan.
Doesn't make sense. The Pacific was a naval war, all they needed in the Atlantic was A/S forces. The USAAF and the Army may as well be useful in Germany and get real operational experience.
Yeah, this. The US is producing loads of Shermans, trucks, arty and other stuff which is no good on the Pacific if you don't have the Navy to beat the japanese. Might just as well send it to North Africa and then Europe.
 
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.
You're absolutely right that the American public considered Japan to be worse than Germany, but Roosevelt definitely considered Hitler to be a priority. Despite promises to the contrary, he focused on Europe first. To get Japan first you'd need to either have Hitler declare war on the USA later or else have Japan do either much better or much worse than in OTL. Much better as in have the Aleutian campaign go better. The Japanese wouldn't be able to occupy the whole of Alaska; its size, weather, and remoteness would make that a logistical impossibility, but greater Japanese success could certainly elevate calls for more focus on Japan. That would require the weather to be more cooperative than in OTL. Or Japan could do so much worse that pressure mounts to finish them off. Let's say Midway results in the loss of not just the carriers, but the battleships (they're not practical but the prestige and effects on morale would still be there) along with a smattering of cruisers and destroyers. Let's say Yorktown is in a salvageable state too. The island-hopping campaign is still going to take a while, even if Nimitz convinces Roosevelt to tell MacArthur to stuff it. You could still have them prioritize Japan in a condition like that, but the POTUS would probably have to be someone other than FDR. I guess if Guam held out you could use it as a base, but that would probably require a POD in the 1930s at the latest. There are PODs that can result in a Japan-first strategy, but I don't see the Battle of Midway being one of them, unless it's as part of a timeline with multiple PODs.

In terms of winning, I'm totally in agreement. I just think Japan can lose much less than it did ATL compared to OTL.
If end up surrendering to the western allies before the Soviets intervene (let's say Manhattan somehow finishes early or the Trinity test for some reason is conducted over Hiroshima), then I could see them being allowed to keep Karafuto/southern Sakhalin and/or the Kurils, but they're not going to be allowed to keep Manchuria, Korea, Taiwan/Formosa, or any of their island territories in Oceania. They're also not getting away without an occupation and the disarmament of the military.

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.
I don't see a huge green USN in 1944. Are they going to sit twiddling their thumbs for two years? Even if you don't divert ships from the Atlantic, you can divert officers and seamen. That seems more consistent with their OTL tendency to bring back aces to train new naval aviators.
The problem with the US government deciding to go Japan first is that the naval power necessary to win simply isn't available until 1944. So no matter what, they have nearly 2 years when then can damage the Japanese bases, destroy their air power, and attack their merchant ships.
Are we talking about OTL or an ATL with the POD being Japanese victory at the battle of Midway? If it's OTL, then sure the ability to steamroller over Japan didn't exist in 1944, but the ability to go on the offensive certainly did. Watchtower kicked off in August of 1942. A Japanese victory at Midway would butterfly away Watchtower though.
So your saying that the USA will not send much to Europe, and instead have all those forces sitting on their backsides because they cant actually DO anything against Japan.
Doesn't make sense. The Pacific was a naval war, all they needed in the Atlantic was A/S forces. The USAAF and the Army may as well be useful in Germany and get real operational experience.
There is also the little point that the US Pacific war depends on British merchant shipping - the US merchant marine wasn't large enough. Now if you say we going to sit on our hands and give you minimal help, your a lot less likely to get those ships to transport the luxury-level of supports US troops got.
If the USA decided to divert its resources to the Pacific, it would probably be by making fewer shipments to the Soviets rather than cutting Britain off. Anti-communist sentiment didn't kick off with the Cold War. The Red Scare preceded World War II and the although the western allies put out propaganda to make the populace go along with the Soviet-alliance, the leadership at the time knew they'd go back to being enemies once the Axis were defeated. Less aid to the Soviets would probably mean more aid to China, so maybe more support for Britain's Burma campaign to give them a way to get it there. Cutting off Lend-Lease Aid to Britain is ASB. Wendell Wilkie, FDR's opponent in 1940, was quite the Sinophile and not a fan of the British Empire; he also lobbied heavily for the passage of Lend-Lease. Even if ASB did make America divert its merchant fleet supplying Britain to the Pacific, the IJN, despite being far more powerful than the Kriegsmarine, never really targeted shipping to the extent Donitz did. The issues with the USA's merchant fleet in the early years had more to do with the German u-boats and lack of convoys than just not having merchant ships.

Although the contributions of the Marines and the Navy are better known the US Army did participate in the Pacific, both ground troops and Army Air Forces. By the time the forces in Europe were in Germany, the US Army Air Forces in the Pacific were carrying out a strategic bombing campaign against Japan's industrial cities. Nagoya, Kobe, Osaka, Tokyo, etc. Also the conditions for troops in the Pacific was not luxury. Oftentimes they were fighting on coral atolls and rocky islands unsuited to digging latrines.
 
So, in order for Japan to have won, I assume that clear doctrine changes were needed. By the way, why did the Japanese army and navy hate each other so much?
If I remember correctly the animosity between the two services has its roots in the clans that dominated each service. I think it might have been the Satsuma in one of them.

Beyond that though, there simply wasn't enough money or resources for each of the two services to get everything that they wanted and so conflict over budget allotments ensured that the two branches would never see eye to eye.

Why this was so much more intense than in other countries I'm not entirely sure and I'd love if someone with more knowledge could help.
 
So, in order for Japan to have won, I assume that clear doctrine changes were needed.
Well, basically, Japan had no amphibious doctrine to speak of...

Once you do have a doctrine, then not only training but equipment has to change to reflect that. The Japanese had none of the specialized amphibious vehicles that the US Navy and Marins had been developing before the war. At Tarawa, the US Marines struggled to clear the coral reefs, but they at least had Alligator LVTs which were able to clear it; even so, they suffered horrific casualties. At Midway, Ichiki and his men would have had no such advantage - they would have had to climb over the reefs and swim ashore.

But they also didn't have enough men anyway - they understimated the garrison size. So, bad intel there. But even so, they ought to have brought more, just to be safe. Kondo's planners simply didn't take it seriously.

And of course none of that even gets into naval gun support and close air support.
 
If I remember correctly the animosity between the two services has its roots in the clans that dominated each service. I think it might have been the Satsuma in one of them.

Beyond that though, there simply wasn't enough money or resources for each of the two services to get everything that they wanted and so conflict over budget allotments ensured that the two branches would never see eye to eye.

Why this was so much more intense than in other countries I'm not entirely sure and I'd love if someone with more knowledge could help.
In other countries they weren't also opposing political factions with actual seats in the government.
 
In other countries they weren't also opposing political factions with actual seats in the government.
Ah I see. I wasn't aware that there were official or semi official blocs. Especially with as much contempt as the Japanese military showed for democratic governance.
 

History Learner

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You're absolutely right that the American public considered Japan to be worse than Germany, but Roosevelt definitely considered Hitler to be a priority. Despite promises to the contrary, he focused on Europe first. To get Japan first you'd need to either have Hitler declare war on the USA later or else have Japan do either much better or much worse than in OTL. Much better as in have the Aleutian campaign go better. The Japanese wouldn't be able to occupy the whole of Alaska; its size, weather, and remoteness would make that a logistical impossibility, but greater Japanese success could certainly elevate calls for more focus on Japan. That would require the weather to be more cooperative than in OTL. Or Japan could do so much worse that pressure mounts to finish them off. Let's say Midway results in the loss of not just the carriers, but the battleships (they're not practical but the prestige and effects on morale would still be there) along with a smattering of cruisers and destroyers. Let's say Yorktown is in a salvageable state too. The island-hopping campaign is still going to take a while, even if Nimitz convinces Roosevelt to tell MacArthur to stuff it. You could still have them prioritize Japan in a condition like that, but the POTUS would probably have to be someone other than FDR. I guess if Guam held out you could use it as a base, but that would probably require a POD in the 1930s at the latest. There are PODs that can result in a Japan-first strategy, but I don't see the Battle of Midway being one of them, unless it's as part of a timeline with multiple PODs.
With 63% of Americans in April of 1942 believing Japan required the focus of resources, Japan even more triumphant in June of 1942 and, finally, Midterms in 1942, Roosevelt will be forced to do such by political expediency.

If end up surrendering to the western allies before the Soviets intervene (let's say Manhattan somehow finishes early or the Trinity test for some reason is conducted over Hiroshima), then I could see them being allowed to keep Karafuto/southern Sakhalin and/or the Kurils, but they're not going to be allowed to keep Manchuria, Korea, Taiwan/Formosa, or any of their island territories in Oceania. They're also not getting away without an occupation and the disarmament of the military.
Historical record shows American planning until the death of Roosevelt was exactly that-no occupation. Offensive military limitations were expected by the Japanese and acceptable, but they had the intention of holding onto the Core Empire. Realistically, the only U.S. option would be to either fold on that or pay the blood price in millions of casualties.

I don't see a huge green USN in 1944. Are they going to sit twiddling their thumbs for two years? Even if you don't divert ships from the Atlantic, you can divert officers and seamen. That seems more consistent with their OTL tendency to bring back aces to train new naval aviators.
Given they would be (re)building the Carrier fleet from scratch with no prior experience, I'd very much say the USN would be a green carrier force.
 

History Learner

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I have a lengthier reply to the rest of your two posts, but for the moment I have the time to address this point, since it's a straightforward factual clarification which can prescind from larger strategic considerations. I can't help the impression that you have a truncated view of Allied air assets employed in TORCH, and this has created some strategic confusion.

1) Naval assets. A total of 12 aircraft carriers were employed in TORCH: 5 American, and 7 British.
Western Task Force: 1 Fleet Carrier (USS Ranger) + 4 escort carriers (USS Suwanee, USS Sangamon, USS Chenango, USS Santee)​
Eastern and Central Task Forces: 4 Fleet Carriers (HMS Formidable, HMS Furious, HMS Victorious, HMS Argus) + 3 escort carriers (HMS Avenger, HMS Biter, HMS Dasher)​

2) Ground Based RAF and USAAF assets. In fact, most of the air cover for TORCH was not naval. 466 RAF and USAAF aircraft had been assembled at Gibraltar, and these provided additional air cover and then began landing on Day One at captured airfields in Morocco and Algeria. After the initial landings, these came to provide almost all of the air support for TORCH ground operations.
Virtually all of the landing sites are, however, beyond the range of land based air. Gibraltar to Casablanca, for instance, is 218 miles; the Spitfire tops out at 175 miles at this time and the P-40 can only do 240 miles. As for the CVEs, my understanding is that most, if not all, were carrying land based planes and thus have no real sustaining power in terms of air cover.

As we can see in turn, only one of Somerville's three fleet carriers ended up being used in TORCH - HMS Formidable. HMS Indomitable was sent off to take part in PEDESTAL, where she received two 500lb bomb hits courtesy of the Luftwaffe, and HMS Illustrious remained to undertake a decoy operation against the Andaman Islands while WATCHTOWER was underway. Thus, transfer of Illustrious to the South Pacific remains the really obvious initial redeployment. Honestly, it's a no-brainer.

Let's turn to TORCH. Given the forces that Cunningham had to cover the landings at Algiers and Oran, we can see in turn that the loss of one British fleet carrier - if that is indeed in contemplation - is hardly fatal to TORCH. If that's Ranger, that's 72 aircraft (1 CRAG, 17 VS-41, 26 VF-9, and 28 FV-41). If it's an Illustrious-class deck, that's a mix of 36 Fulmars and Albacores. Obviously, the British deck is a more bearable absence.

We do not have any agreed list of combat losses in this Alt-Midway - though presumably Nimitz has lost at least two of his carriers. The scale of the losses could affect just how the US responds in terms of redeployments, but the most likely outcome, I think, is that USS Wasp is sent to the Pacific immediately, thus giving Nimitz at least two fleet carriers (Saratoga, Wasp), and three if there's a survivor from Midway, while Ranger is kept for the Western Task Force of TORCH, where she accounts for too big a slice of US air power for the initial landings to easily dispense with, and makes the most sense for integration into an otherwise wholly US naval task force. After the TORCH landings are concluded - which in this timeline is now more like mid-October - it's near certain that Ranger and the CVE's get sent to the Pacific immediately.

The question then is whether Churchill would order Somerville to immediately send another one of his Illustrious-class decks to Nimitz in June, or more to the point, what the consequences would be if he did. At least one has to get sent to the Med for PEDESTAL. It can be a reasonable working assumption that this carrier suffers what Indomitable does in our timeline, which means a risk of effectively losing an Illustrious for TORCH, which would remove about, roughly, one sixth of Cunningham's naval air cover for the Central and Eastern TF's. It is possible, though, that the damage that Indomitable sustained could, I think, be given a rush repair job (she was sent to Norfolk for repairs OTL, and returned to the ETO in February 1943), since it only affected the lifts and upper hull, not the engines, shafts, island, or deck; it's possible that even just restoring one lift could have allowed it to participate fielding the bulk of its normal air group. Even if not, however, the loss of 36 Fulmars and Albacores is not too much of a hit from the array of air power Cunningham and Eisenhower were able to deploy for TORCH's opening phase, let alone operations afterward.

So what we could have, and what I think we *would* see, is Saratoga and Wasp available to Nimitz by July - plus any Yorktown class survivor from Midway, if there is one - plus two Illustrious-class carriers by August, with Ranger and the four CVE's reaching Pearl Harbor by December. Not quite a match for Kido Butai, and certainly not enough to start staging any counteroffensives, but if backed by any reasonable land-based airpower (say, especially if Yamamoto tries Operation FS after all) and good intel, a force strong enough to give battle. Especially if Yamamoto ain't expecting 'em.

Someone earlier mentioned the possibility of diverting Massachusetts from TORCH, too. This seems suboptimal given how important a role she played in knocking out Jean Bart and the battery at El Hank, and hardly necessary since four of the new fast battleships were already scheduled to head to Pearl that summer anyway (North Carolina, Washington, South Dakota, Indiana) and the need is really for carriers anyway.
With the Kido Butai intact, the British can't pull carriers out of the Indian Ocean, as that opens them up to another raid and it's clear Somerville was concerned at this prospect even IOTL until Midway solved the issue. If they pull one out for PEDESTAL, as you note, that leaves none to be transferred or to cover the landings. As for TORCH in general and Ranger in specific, my thoughts on that are pretty clear. I'm also not really sure how, conceding the TORCH point, one can speed up the operation.
 
Virtually all of the landing sites are, however, beyond the range of land based air. Gibraltar to Casablanca, for instance, is 218 miles; the Spitfire tops out at 175 miles at this time and the P-40 can only do 240 miles. As for the CVEs, my understanding is that most, if not all, were carrying land based planes and thus have no real sustaining power in terms of air cover.
Not quite as many as you might think.

Take the Western Force: of the four CVE's employed, Chenango had a stack of P-40's which were indeed dispatched to captured air fields. But Santee, Suwanee, and Sangamon had Navy and Marine squadrons which were used for air support, CAP, and anti-submarine duties.

As for Gibraltar, yes, the fighters were only within ferry range, for the most part, of French airfields. But the bombers were another story.

In any event, the air support that TORCH deployed was easily more than adequate to the task. The subtraction of one Illustrious deck would not make a critical difference - and it's not even certain that Roosevelt and Churchill would subtract it. There is, in short, no danger to TORCH by the kind of redeployments we'd be likely to see in this alt-Midway scenario. The operation had more than ample air support.

With the Kido Butai intact, the British can't pull carriers out of the Indian Ocean, as that opens them up to another raid and it's clear Somerville was concerned at this prospect even IOTL until Midway solved the issue. If they pull one out for PEDESTAL, as you note, that leaves none to be transferred or to cover the landings. As for TORCH in general and Ranger in specific, my thoughts on that are pretty clear. I'm also not really sure how, conceding the TORCH point, one can speed up the operation.
1. Somerville's force wasn't capable of taking on the Kido Butai in the first place, however. If Yamamoto decided to launch another op in the Bay of Bengal - an eventuality which was very unlikely anyway - all Somerville could reasonably do was what he did in April - run away. This is why the plans were already in place to pull the carriers from the Indian Ocean even before Midway. Because they *could* do genuinely useful and urgent things in places like the Med.

2. Again, even if second Illustrious is sent to Nimitz, it's not necessarily a given that TORCH loses one. Assuming the two bomb hits of PEDESTAL are not butterflied away here, USN yards had shown how quickly they could do emergency repairs on a carrier, and it's not at all inconceivable that Indomitable could be put into shape for at least limited operations. But again, even if not, it's not a critical subtraction from Cunningham's air support.

3. The nominal reason for TORCH's delay to November 7 was that the USN insisted it needed the extra time for combat loading. But planning for the operation was delayed in the first place bcause Roosevelt delayed final approval until the end of July. In this scenario, with a need for some major points on the board before Election Day, and GYMNAST/TORCH the only realistic prospect for a viable Allied offensive action, it seems more likely that Roosevelt would accelerate his decision.

4. As I've said, think Ranger makes more sense staying with TORCH, and it's more likely, based on how what I know of how Roosevelt and King thought, that it's kept with TORCH, and only transferred to the Pacific afterward.
 
With 63% of Americans in April of 1942 believing Japan required the focus of resources, Japan even more triumphant in June of 1942 and, finally, Midterms in 1942, Roosevelt will be forced to do such by political expediency.
If Roosevelt goes and tells Stalin that there will be no Allied offensive operations in the ETO in 1942, or even worse, none in 1943, either, he is courting the likelihood that Stalin sends peace feelers to Hitler - at whatever the cost. (In fact, we now know Stalin had already made such an attempt in February 1942.) He'd be risking the breaking of the entire coalition by doing that.

Everything we know of Roosevelt's think at that point in the war indicates that is a risk he was not willing to take.
 
Anyway, that John Ford footage of the slaughter of Ichiki's troops on the beaches of Midway will be rolling in cinemas across the fruited plains by Michaelmas.
After debut of the latest 20th Century Fox feature

REPORTER: any regrets about your masterpiece, Mr Ford?
FORD: I ran out of film before the Japs ran out of men to put on the Beach. Goddammit, four more reels! just four more!
 
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