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An earlier 'Doolittle' raid

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  • An earlier 'Doolittle' raid

    The Doolittle raid was on April 18 1942.

    WI the Americans struck earlier?

    Smarting at Pearl Harbor, they do "a Churchill" and throw caution to the wind, recklessly sending their 3 aircraft carriers to within a suicidal 200 miles of Japan, within 2 weeks of December 7 1941.

    Luck is with them, they remain undetected, and 120 Devastators and Dauntlesses drop 90 tons of bombs on and around Tokyo. 50 US aircraft don't make it back to their carriers, who make it back intact to Pearl.

    Although actual damage is light, Japanese aircraft are called home and sufficient lead is put in the Japanese boots that the invasions of Malaysia,Thailand, Burma and Philipines are slowed by the news of the swift American response. Bataan and Singapore never fall/their fall is delayed by months from OTL.

  • #2
    The Japanese had considered this possibility. That is why they had a picket line of scout ships extended 600 nautical miles from Japan when they suspected the US carriers were at sea.

    Six hundred NM is double the combat range of the dive bomber and fighters the USN used in 1942. The picket boats would give the Japanese at least ten hours warning before a attack could be launched.

    Also in early December the air wings on the carriers had not completely converted to the latest models. Several of the squadrons were older less capable types. Conversion and training took several more months to complete.

    Even if the picket line is not extended and only the short 300NM line the US carrier are too close to Japan and vulnerable to land based air strike while they wait for their air groups to return and land.


    • #3
      There were a number of other ealier raids, using the navy aircraft in more appropriate situations. The January raids on the Marianas are well known. More obscure are the February and March raids. In February a single carrier raid was attempted on Rabaul. A IJN reconissance plane spotted the small US fleet & the raid was aborted. However a entire group of 17 Betty twin engine bombers was massacred in a attack on the carrier. Lt Butch OHare became a ace in two to three minutes downing five of the bombers.

      A couple weeks later two carriers launched a attack on a large IJA supply convoy headed for New Guniea. The carriers were on the south side of the island and the convoy approaching from the north. The strike group had to fly far above normal altitudes for single engine navy planes to cross the Owen Stanley Mountains. One cargo ship was sunk, five damaged, and the convoy scattered. None of the ships continued to their destination, seeking shelter at Rabaul or other ports. All were delayed a month or more in their delivery. This helped take some pressure off the Australians defending Port Moresby.

      Point here is if you dont try to reproduce the Dolittle or home islands raid then a lot more possibilites open up.


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