WI: an alternate Midway and delayed Guadalcanal scenario

I wonder if the B-26 crews ever practice torpedo attacks before they were in action at Midway?

"Halsey at Midway" is another great 'what if'

Fletcher gets poor treatment from many historians, in my opinion. In this timeline, he should still see some work in the South Pacific.

I've always found it amusing that when he commanded the fleet, he usually flew his flag on Indianapolis, named for his home town. Of course, she and Portland were fitted as fleet flagships, so she had the capability. And he WAS a cruiser admiral before ascending to Task Force and Fleet command.

He did lose his ship here, though. He might get a TF of escort carriers, at least for a while, if he gets carriers at all.

Fitch did some great work as Commander Aircraft South Pacific, and he had Army, Navy, Marine and NZ air power under him. If he has a command at sea, who gets plugged into his historic position?

BRILLIANT!!! LOL!
I do not know this.

It is a what if that probably would not have turned out well for the US. His skin would have been killing him.

I, personally, am a big fan of old Frank. Criminally underrated. Goddam you Morison.

Please... talking about the Indianapolis always makes depressed as hell.

Mitscher with the Sangamons? Interesting. Four Jeeps and an Admiral for a propaganda movie.

Towers? Hope not.

And I'm glad you liked the meme.
 
Another interesting POD is what if Saratoga gets to Midway on time and she and Yorktown divide the two airstrikes between them with Yorktown taking the bombs and Saratoga the torpedoes which leave both ships damaged but capable of going home. Or Saratoga's bomber could show up at the same time as Yorktown's and none of th Japanese carriers are left intact to counterattack. Oh and Lexington surviving Coral Sea of course.
Yes, but that would run counter to the entire point of this thread.
 
The more I think about this timeline, the more unrealistic it sounds. US key to success in Guadalcanal was that the marines were quickly able to occupy the airfield and form a defensive perimeter around it and were able to hold it despite limited naval and aerial support. If Guadalcanal is properly reinforced this is much more difficult especially if (as in OTL) the transports need to leave before being fully unloaded.

Also if there is a silent period in naval engagements from June to November, IJN is much more potent force and it would make much more sense for Nimitz to wait for new ships before starting offensives that could lead into a major fleet battle. After 12 months USN will have similar strength than in OTL and with the fleet used to support the Battle of Tarawa IJN seriously outmatched.
 
Hello, alternate historians!

In my mind recently, I have constructed a scenario that basically goes as follows. It's a long read, but I hope it's understandable:

Preliminaries
  • At the Battle of the Coral Sea, Takeo Takagi actually listens to Chuichi Hara and so does not send out his dusk strike on 7th May (this is the POD). This allows him to include more torpedo bombers during his strike on TF 17 on 8th May.
  • Yorktown, compared with no torpedo hits in real life, is struck by two or three fish and loses all engine power, with water flooding her machinery spaces and an alarming list developing. She survives, just, but has to be towed out of the combat zone and is clearly in need of months of repairs.
  • Meanwhile, Lexington eats an extra fish, bringing her total up to three, but due to the extra damage her DC teams are a tad bit cautious, and prevent the ship from being lost to the av-gas explosions that doomed her historically. Meanwhile, with Shokaku banged up and Zuikaku's air group decimated, Takagi turns away as OTL.
  • Frank Jack Fletcher takes stock of the situation, and, realising that his own original TF 17 is going to take a long time to get back to Pearl, orders Aubrey Fitch and TF 11, centred around the now damaged Lex, to hustle back to Pearl as quickly as they can. They get there around the time Yorktown arrived historically.
  • Chester Nimitz looks over Lex, and decides, justifiably, that she is too badly damaged to risk in the upcoming battle around Midway. Instead, some of her pilots and planes, say 18 Dauntlesses and half a dozen Devastators, are transferred to Midway Island's air garrison.
  • Aubrey Fitch himself is slapped onto the Hornet to take charge of her flight operations. Marc Mitscher is not promoted en route as OTL, because Nimitz decides, entirely reasonably, that he will wait on the promotion until he sees how well Mitscher can handle himself in combat.
  • The American fleet sails to the intercept point in two separate formations: TF 16 under Spruance, centred on Enterprise, and TF 18 under Fitch, centred on Hornet. Spruance, as the senior American admiral, is in overall command.
Midway: Morning
  • As nothing has changed on the Japanese side, the attack on Midway proceeds as OTL. The extra planes stationed at Midway make things a bit more difficult for the Japanese, but they do no extra damage. However, a Japanese recon plane sees the Enterprise in pretty much the same way the Yorktown was spotted in OTL, and Nagumo's decision making proceeds as OTL.
  • On the American side, Spruance has been using VS-6 for recon, keeping VB-6, VT-6, VB-8, VS-8 and VT-8 in reserve for strike. As his Dauntlesses fulfil pretty much what Yorktown's planes did IOTL, they get off the correct sighting reports of the Japanese fleet and allow Spruance to launch his strike.
  • As Aubrey Fitch, who actually knows what he is doing, is running air ops on Hornet, VB-8, VS-8 and VT-8 all follow the correct heading upon launch and eventually come into contact with Tamon Yamaguchi's CarDiv 2 around the same time that Waldron and the boys did IOTL. Hiryu and Soryu are immolated by this attack.
  • Shortly afterwards, VT-6 makes its doomed attack on CarDiv 1. However, VB-6 then turns up. Despite the best efforts of the Japanese CAP, which is now focused on defending the two remaining Japanese carriers, Kaga is bombed and turned into an inferno. This leaves Akagi as the sole surviving Japanese carrier.
Midway: Afternoon
  • Nagumo, as IOTL, wastes no time in launching a counterstrike. Once his 18 Kates and their escorts are armed, he sends them off on the return vector that VB-8, VS-8 and VT-8 took. This leads Akagi's strike package to Hornet. Faced with intense AA and numerous Wildcats, the Japanese suffer heavy casualties. Nevertheless, the best torpedo squadron in the world strikes Hornet with three torpedoes and, like with Yorktown at TTL Coral Sea, leave her dead in the water and with a bad list.
  • Aboard Enterprise, Spruance is still running recon missions using VS-6, and manages to relocate Akagi later in the day. However, around the time he is preparing a strike with what he has left, Akagi's Val squadron shows up, having been launched with orders to destroy another American carrier. Enterprise is struck by three 250kg bombs. Although the blast and fire damage is manageable, it prevents her from conducting flight operations, and so the American strike does not go out.
  • The two Japanese air attacks have shown Nagumo that the Americans are not closing for a surface action, but are busy running away. Therefore, he turns what remains of Kido Butai away and heads back towards Midway. This saves Akagi from any further harm.
  • Spruance, meanwhile, keen to cut his losses and get out before any Japanese surface units appear, orders the still-unmanageable Hornet to be scuttled. This is done, and the American force withdraws.
  • As one of his carriers is still intact, and has many fighters left on board, Yamamoto decides to press ahead with the invasion. Takeo Kurita's CruDiv 7 bombard Midway as they were ordered too, and do not collide with each in silly ways as they withdraw.
Midway: The Next Day
  • The Japanese landing goes ahead. As we all expect, it is an utter disaster and the landing force is near totally destroyed. To make matters worse, a prowling American submarine manages to torpedo and destroy the Zuiho as it tries to support the landings alongside the Akagi.
  • This double-whammy of bad news finally persuades Yamamoto to call off the invasion, and return to Japan with what he has left.

The end result of this is a clear victory for the Americans. Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu and Zuiho have all been sunk, for the loss of Hornet and damage to the Enterprise. However, Nimitz now only has two carriers operational in the Pacific. Enterprise, Lexington and Yorktown will all need repairs. Ent will probably be back around August; Lexington, in dire need of an upgrade and modernisation, will probably be back around October; Yorktown around November.

On the Japanese side, half of the vaunted Kido Butai has been destroyed. However, Akagi, Shokaku and Zuikaku survive. Added to this are Hiyo, Junyo and Ryujo. The Japanese carrier force is reorganised, with the former three making up the new CarDiv 1 and the latter three making up the new CarDiv 2.

It is clear to the US that they can now make a counteroffensive, and Operation WATCHTOWER is formulated - for November 7 1942, i.e. it is set back three months.

On that day, the US Marines go ashore on Tulagi and Guadalcanal, and the first Allied counteroffensive in the Pacific begins...

Is this mini-TL realistic? Do you think the IJN and IJA will do better at Guadalcanal, as the former has an extra CV, while the latter has actually learnt to respect the USMC, and has had more time to consolidate the base on Guadalcanal?

Thoughts, please
What you laid out so far is tactically realistic. I would only make a few points. Midway was pretty much maxed out on aircraft, so I don't know if they could take another 18 SBD's. If you substitute them for the Marine Vindicators that could only glide bomb, they could do some damage. Nimitz might not be willing to commit only 2 carriers, the odds are pretty high, and at this stage of the war he can't afford losing them. Your also forgetting Saratoga. She was completing repairs on the West Coast, and only missed the battle by a few days, with some of her air group joining in.

By November Guadalcanal would be a lot tougher to take. The Japanese would have a much stronger garrison, and they'd have local air control, making an approach to the Island very risky. By this point events will have moved on, and the opportunity might have been lost. The battle in New Guinea, and the defense of the Islands south of the Solomon's would've become higher priorities. Till the Japanese advance in the South Pacific was stopped, at some alternate battle in invasion of the lower Solomon's might have to wait till 1943.
 
The more I think about this timeline, the more unrealistic it sounds. US key to success in Guadalcanal was that the marines were quickly able to occupy the airfield and form a defensive perimeter around it and were able to hold it despite limited naval and aerial support. If Guadalcanal is properly reinforced this is much more difficult especially if (as in OTL) the transports need to leave before being fully unloaded.

Also if there is a silent period in naval engagements from June to November, IJN is much more potent force and it would make much more sense for Nimitz to wait for new ships before starting offensives that could lead into a major fleet battle. After 12 months USN will have similar strength than in OTL and with the fleet used to support the Battle of Tarawa IJN seriously outmatched.
Yes, which is why now I think that Nimitz will pour his resources into repairing Enterprise and get WATCHTOWER kicked off in August like happened in real life. He knows he cannot afford to wait.
 
What you laid out so far is tactically realistic. I would only make a few points. Midway was pretty much maxed out on aircraft, so I don't know if they could take another 18 SBD's. If you substitute them for the Marine Vindicators that could only glide bomb, they could do some damage. Nimitz might not be willing to commit only 2 carriers, the odds are pretty high, and at this stage of the war he can't afford losing them. Your also forgetting Saratoga. She was completing repairs on the West Coast, and only missed the battle by a few days, with some of her air group joining in.

By November Guadalcanal would be a lot tougher to take. The Japanese would have a much stronger garrison, and they'd have local air control, making an approach to the Island very risky. By this point events will have moved on, and the opportunity might have been lost. The battle in New Guinea, and the defense of the Islands south of the Solomon's would've become higher priorities. Till the Japanese advance in the South Pacific was stopped, at some alternate battle in invasion of the lower Solomon's might have to wait till 1943.
I think Nimitz would have taken a 2 v 4, because in real life he was willing to do a 3 v 5 (he thought Zuikaku was on the way). With Midway's air garrison taken into account, numerically he is actually not that badly outnumbered compared to the Kido Butai. There is always the threat that Japan could take the atoll, and while that would not have much strategic impact, it would hurt morale badly. He needed to do something.

As for the November timing, see my new thoughts in the posts above. OTOH, the bad experience with the USMC at Midway might make the IJA more cautious and methodical, and cause not them to dive into fiascos like Edson's Ridge. There's also the fact that Akagi will be back around September or October.
 
On the other side, while repairing Shokaku after Coral Sea, why not transfer the majority of its air group to reinforce the losses on the undamaged Zuikaku and have a 5th Japanese Carrier?
Not IJN practice they fought by CARDIV. Anyone else would have done it but no the IJN.


As an alternative to the base scenario.

Midway does not happen at all, say island AF is not identified as Midway and the view that it could be Hawaii accepted. The USN ( to minimize changes to OTL) does have the date and OOB but keeps its forces in Hawaii so when the attack happens Nimitz reaction would be sending an outnumbered carrier force on a 1500 mile run into a superior force. he can realistically assume the islands air force is suppressed even if the island is not taken, and there will be a submarine patrol line between him and Midway. He declines the battle ( and maybe gets fired) but the garrison beats off the invasion force and KB retires undamaged to Japan where it is rejoined by Shokaku and Zuikaku in mid -late July.

WATCHTOWER goes ahead anyway and the landing and the first naval battle are OTL. As the Japanese initial counterinvasion force is dead at Midway Eastern Solomons if it happens cannot be about delivering them. although it could be about an air attack on Henderson.

Midway is very much an outlier in carrier battles of 42 earlier 43 with the US being able to ambush the IJN force, and the IJN not being able to launch a strike when the do discover US carriers because of actions of the VT and Midway based airforces, entirely uncoordinated with each other closing the decks and both Enterprise and Yorktown strikes arriving with minutes of each other attacking different carriers and Best doing the right thing and getting the perfect hit on a third.
 
Not IJN practice they fought by CARDIV. Anyone else would have done it but no the IJN.


As an alternative to the base scenario.

Midway does not happen at all, say island AF is not identified as Midway and the view that it could be Hawaii accepted. The USN ( to minimize changes to OTL) does have the date and OOB but keeps its forces in Hawaii so when the attack happens Nimitz reaction would be sending an outnumbered carrier force on a 1500 mile run into a superior force. he can realistically assume the islands air force is suppressed even if the island is not taken, and there will be a submarine patrol line between him and Midway. He declines the battle ( and maybe gets fired) but the garrison beats off the invasion force and KB retires undamaged to Japan where it is rejoined by Shokaku and Zuikaku in mid -late July.

WATCHTOWER goes ahead anyway and the landing and the first naval battle are OTL. As the Japanese initial counterinvasion force is dead at Midway Eastern Solomons if it happens cannot be about delivering them. although it could be about an air attack on Henderson.

Midway is very much an outlier in carrier battles of 42 earlier 43 with the US being able to ambush the IJN force, and the IJN not being able to launch a strike when the do discover US carriers because of actions of the VT and Midway based airforces, entirely uncoordinated with each other closing the decks and both Enterprise and Yorktown strikes arriving with minutes of each other attacking different carriers and Best doing the right thing and getting the perfect hit on a third.
Realistically, I think Yamamoto would have tried to launch Operation FS around August, so the two offensives or their respective preparations could end up running into each other. But sitting and doing nothing was not Nimitz's way, and, as the scenario demonstrates, he has a very good chance of dealing heavy damage to the IJN. Being Chester Nimitz, he WILL take that chance. This is early 1942, and the USN must be bold if it is to succeed.
 

McPherson

Banned
Hello, alternate historians!

In my mind recently, I have constructed a scenario that basically goes as follows. It's a long read, but I hope it's understandable:

Preliminaries
  • At the Battle of the Coral Sea, Takeo Takagi actually listens to Chuichi Hara and so does not send out his dusk strike on 7th May (this is the POD). This allows him to include more torpedo bombers during his strike on TF 17 on 8th May.
  • Yorktown, compared with no torpedo hits in real life, is struck by two or three fish and loses all engine power, with water flooding her machinery spaces and an alarming list developing. She survives, just, but has to be towed out of the combat zone and is clearly in need of months of repairs.
  • Meanwhile, Lexington eats an extra fish, bringing her total up to three, but due to the extra damage her DC teams are a tad bit cautious, and prevent the ship from being lost to the av-gas explosions that doomed her historically. Meanwhile, with Shokaku banged up and Zuikaku's air group decimated, Takagi turns away as OTL.
  • Frank Jack Fletcher takes stock of the situation, and, realising that his own original TF 17 is going to take a long time to get back to Pearl, orders Aubrey Fitch and TF 11, centred around the now damaged Lex, to hustle back to Pearl as quickly as they can. They get there around the time Yorktown arrived historically.
  • Chester Nimitz looks over Lex, and decides, justifiably, that she is too badly damaged to risk in the upcoming battle around Midway. Instead, some of her pilots and planes, say 18 Dauntlesses and half a dozen Devastators, are transferred to Midway Island's air garrison.
  • Aubrey Fitch himself is slapped onto the Hornet to take charge of her flight operations. Marc Mitscher is not promoted en route as OTL, because Nimitz decides, entirely reasonably, that he will wait on the promotion until he sees how well Mitscher can handle himself in combat.
  • The American fleet sails to the intercept point in two separate formations: TF 16 under Spruance, centred on Enterprise, and TF 18 under Fitch, centred on Hornet. Spruance, as the senior American admiral, is in overall command.
I do not agree at all. If Braindead actually listens to King Kong, with these results stipulated, then CarDiv 5 and the Main Striking Force hangs in there and finishes off the Lex and the Yorkie at the cost of Shōhō and Shōkaku. There is no way Hara lets this chance to kill 50% of PACFLTs aircraft carrier strength slip through his opportunistic fingers. Further with TF 17 at the bottom of the Coral Sea, Nimitz will be fired and things decidedly take a Pacific War turn for the worse for the Americans, cause with such a disaster to offset the Doolittle Raid, the Midway operation is now arguably less necessary and it may be that Inoue's options and his faction may convince the Imperial Japanese Army that maybe this is the direction to push instead of listening to that lunatic, Yamamoto, and his Midway and Hawaii fixations.
Midway: Morning
  • As nothing has changed on the Japanese side, the attack on Midway proceeds as OTL. The extra planes stationed at Midway make things a bit more difficult for the Japanese, but they do no extra damage. However, a Japanese recon plane sees the Enterprise in pretty much the same way the Yorktown was spotted in OTL, and Nagumo's decision making proceeds as OTL.
  • On the American side, Spruance has been using VS-6 for recon, keeping VB-6, VT-6, VB-8, VS-8 and VT-8 in reserve for strike. As his Dauntlesses fulfil pretty much what Yorktown's planes did IOTL, they get off the correct sighting reports of the Japanese fleet and allow Spruance to launch his strike.
  • As Aubrey Fitch, who actually knows what he is doing, is running air ops on Hornet, VB-8, VS-8 and VT-8 all follow the correct heading upon launch and eventually come into contact with Tamon Yamaguchi's CarDiv 2 around the same time that Waldron and the boys did IOTL. Hiryu and Soryu are immolated by this attack.
  • Shortly afterwards, VT-6 makes its doomed attack on CarDiv 1. However, VB-6 then turns up. Despite the best efforts of the Japanese CAP, which is now focused on defending the two remaining Japanese carriers, Kaga is bombed and turned into an inferno. This leaves Akagi as the sole surviving Japanese carrier.
Midway: Afternoon
  • Nagumo, as IOTL, wastes no time in launching a counterstrike. Once his 18 Kates and their escorts are armed, he sends them off on the return vector that VB-8, VS-8 and VT-8 took. This leads Akagi's strike package to Hornet. Faced with intense AA and numerous Wildcats, the Japanese suffer heavy casualties. Nevertheless, the best torpedo squadron in the world strikes Hornet with three torpedoes and, like with Yorktown at TTL Coral Sea, leave her dead in the water and with a bad list.
  • Aboard Enterprise, Spruance is still running recon missions using VS-6, and manages to relocate Akagi later in the day. However, around the time he is preparing a strike with what he has left, Akagi's Val squadron shows up, having been launched with orders to destroy another American carrier. Enterprise is struck by three 250kg bombs. Although the blast and fire damage is manageable, it prevents her from conducting flight operations, and so the American strike does not go out.
  • The two Japanese air attacks have shown Nagumo that the Americans are not closing for a surface action, but are busy running away. Therefore, he turns what remains of Kido Butai away and heads back towards Midway. This saves Akagi from any further harm.
  • Spruance, meanwhile, keen to cut his losses and get out before any Japanese surface units appear, orders the still-unmanageable Hornet to be scuttled. This is done, and the American force withdraws.
  • As one of his carriers is still intact, and has many fighters left on board, Yamamoto decides to press ahead with the invasion. Takeo Kurita's CruDiv 7 bombard Midway as they were ordered too, and do not collide with each in silly ways as they withdraw.
Midway: The Next Day
  • The Japanese landing goes ahead. As we all expect, it is an utter disaster and the landing force is near totally destroyed. To make matters worse, a prowling American submarine manages to torpedo and destroy the Zuiho as it tries to support the landings alongside the Akagi.
  • This double-whammy of bad news finally persuades Yamamoto to call off the invasion, and return to Japan with what he has left.

The end result of this is a clear victory for the Americans. Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu and Zuiho have all been sunk, for the loss of Hornet and damage to the Enterprise. However, Nimitz now only has two carriers operational in the Pacific. Enterprise, Lexington and Yorktown will all need repairs. Ent will probably be back around August; Lexington, in dire need of an upgrade and modernisation, will probably be back around October; Yorktown around November.

On the Japanese side, half of the vaunted Kido Butai has been destroyed. However, Akagi, Shokaku and Zuikaku survive. Added to this are Hiyo, Junyo and Ryujo. The Japanese carrier force is reorganised, with the former three making up the new CarDiv 1 and the latter three making up the new CarDiv 2.

It is clear to the US that they can now make a counteroffensive, and Operation WATCHTOWER is formulated - for November 7 1942, i.e. it is set back three months.

On that day, the US Marines go ashore on Tulagi and Guadalcanal, and the first Allied counteroffensive in the Pacific begins...

Is this mini-TL realistic? Do you think the IJN and IJA will do better at Guadalcanal, as the former has an extra CV, while the latter has actually learnt to respect the USMC, and has had more time to consolidate the base on Guadalcanal?

Thoughts, please?
1. Not enough runways on Midway.
2. Total command chaos in Hawaii. FRUMEL and FRUPAC will be gutted by the Redmans and the USN is in a very very bad way.
3. Based on 2?
-James O. Richardson (FDR fired him in a fight that led to Kimmel and Pearl Harbor, so how is that going to happen?)
-Thomas C. Hart (FDR fired him for being forthright over the British and ABDA, so how is that going to happen?)
-Charles P. Snyder (Are you kidding? This incompetent wanted to expand African American service into Navy Bands, because they were so "musical".)
-Royal E. Ingersoll (He's a little busy fighting the Battle of the Atlantic.)
-William F. Halsey Jr. (Shudder. he is not a good battle manager. He might be good for fleet morale if he does not get it sunk)
-Raymond A. Spruance (Too junior. He has to get a chance to prove how good he is.)
-Frank Jack Fletcher is at the bottom of the Coral Sea, along with Aubrey Fitch.

That leaves Wilson Brown or John McCain. Good luck with that.
 
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Would Nimitz have taken the "calculated risk" with only 2 decks? I don't think it would have been justifiable.

What if, instead, he sent one or both carriers with a beefed up TF 8, and bushwhacked the entire Aleutians force?
 

McPherson

Banned
Would Nimitz have taken the "calculated risk" with only 2 decks? I don't think it would have been justifiable.

What if, instead, he sent one or both carriers with a beefed up TF 8, and bushwhacked the entire Aleutians force?
Depends. Nimitz was willing to try with just 2 flattops against 4. He was "optimistic", which is a good quality to have in a leader. However, whacking Hosogaya requires a lot better Army Navy cooperation from Alaska Command than Nimitz was getting from that gentleman, Simon Bolivar Buckner. That army general was too political and too inter-service rivalry fixated to play ball with the Navy.

If one thinks the Japanese army and navy were screwballs around the time of Midway, just read how fouled up US Army and Navy cooperation was in Alaska. There was a "reason" Frank Jack Fletcher was sent there to sort it out.
 
It is clear to the US that they can now make a counteroffensive, and Operation WATCHTOWER is formulated - for November 7 1942, i.e. it is set back three months.

On that day, the US Marines go ashore on Tulagi and Guadalcanal, and the first Allied counteroffensive in the Pacific begins...

Is this mini-TL realistic? Do you think the IJN and IJA will do better at Guadalcanal, as the former has an extra CV, while the latter has actually learnt to respect the USMC, and has had more time to consolidate the base on Guadalcanal?

Thoughts, please?
I like this.

One quick observation, though. 3 additional months gives the Japanese time to finish the airfield, and this means they have land based airpower to call on, so do the Americans even try the invasion in the first place? And how much additional damage do the a historical land based planes do to the US forces, if the US still tries to land?
 
Realistically, I think Yamamoto would have tried to launch Operation FS around August, so the two offensives or their respective preparations could end up running into each other. But sitting and doing nothing was not Nimitz's way, and, as the scenario demonstrates, he has a very good chance of dealing heavy damage to the IJN. Being Chester Nimitz, he WILL take that chance. This is early 1942, and the USN must be bold if it is to succeed.

He can't he has no landing force. The troops initially allocated are either dead at Midway or somewhere over the Owen Stanleys.
 
I do not agree at all. If Braindead actually listens to King Kong, with these results stipulated, then CarDiv 5 and the Main Striking Force hangs in there and finishes off the Lex and the Yorkie at the cost of Shōhō and Shōkaku. There is no way Hara lets this chance to kill 50% of PACFLTs aircraft carrier strength slip through his opportunistic fingers. Further with TF 17 at the bottom of the Coral Sea, Nimitz will be fired and things decidedly take a Pacific War turn for the worse for the Americans, cause with such a disaster to offset the Doolittle Raid, the Midway operation is now arguably less necessary and it may be that Inoue's options and his faction may convince the Imperial Japanese Army that maybe this is the direction to push instead of listening to that lunatic, Yamamoto, and his Midway and Hawaii fixations.
I... actually had not thought of it that way. I thought the IJN would be averse to losing one of the precious fleet carriers. Then again, Hara knows very well that, if stuff goes bad, he can always have the Shokaku replaced with the Taiho come 1944.

If this victory happens, Japan will still not have taken Port Moresby. However, I can see attention being turned south. Perhaps, as a preliminary operation, the Japanese have another go at PM in June and take the town with the SSD. Then, in August, Operation FS is launched - as the Japanese have not wasted fuel on Midway they are in more of a position to do this, and they may have more army cooperation.

Perhaps we have an Inoue timeline in the making here.
 
Would Nimitz have taken the "calculated risk" with only 2 decks? I don't think it would have been justifiable.

What if, instead, he sent one or both carriers with a beefed up TF 8, and bushwhacked the entire Aleutians force?
Also bear in mind that the logistics needed to get the old Standards up to Alaska are nightmarish.
 
What kind of plans did the japansese have to reinforce Guadalcanal and the area? In OTL by November they had allocated so much troops and planes to the area that it may not be possible to take Guadalcanal&Tulagi with resources available to the US. But of course these reinforcements were sent there due to loss of Guadalcanal in August.
I don't think the Japanese planned to reinforce the island to any substantial degree:

- The IJA faction reluctantly agreed to support continued IJN driven advances in the area as a consolation prize after they vetoed IJN suggestions that Australia be invaded (logistically impossible). IJA presence in the southwest Pacific at all was only marginally possible logistics wise.

In the end, Guadalcanal was just one of many near useless islands (IJA view) being seized by the IJN- who then insisted that the IJA provide meaningful garissons comprised of troops that were essentially not available. Thus, IJA plans to reinforce Guadalcanal were probably minimal.

- Meanwhile, the IJN viewed Guadalcanal and other islands as temporary stops before their inevitable victorious advances to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Since Guadalcanal would not be on the frontlines long in the IJN playbook, there was little need to have plans to substantially reinforce it.
 
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McPherson

Banned
I don't think the Japanese planned to reinforce the island to any substantial degree:
Logistics; no oil, no transports, no common sense.
- The IJA faction reluctantly agreed to support continued IJN driven advances in the area as a consolation prize after they vetoed IJN suggestions that Australia be invaded (logistically impossible). IJA presence in the southwest Pacific at all was only marginally possible logistics wise.
They seem to have figured out Rabaul well enough.
In the end, Guadalcanal was just one of many near useless islands (IJA view) being seized by the IJN- who then insisted that the IJA provide meaningful garrisons comprised of troops that were essentially not available. Thus, IJA plans to reinforce Guadalcanal were probably minimal.
The IJA was a little weak on the sea use / denial thing until they started looking at the USN commerce warfare campaign. Then the IJA took a crash course in ASW and MAHAN 101. Actually was doing better than the IJN in 1944.
- Meanwhile, the IJN viewed Guadalcanal and other islands as temporary stops before their inevitable victorious advances to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Since Guadalcanal would not be on the frontlines long in the IJN playbook, there was little need to have plans to substantially reinforce it.
Uhmmm. The point of the Lunga Point airbase was to dominate the Coral Sea with a RIKKO presence.
 
The Germans also figured out Stalingrad logistically- at least for a while.

In the end Rabual, was not figured out logistically by the IJA. Rather, it simply survived. This was because the area could support large, self sustaining gardens and the allies lost interest in taking it (no need for re-supplies of ammunition, gasoline, aircraft or anything else).
 
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