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  • No "Miracle at Midway"

    Ok, here goes. I'm jumping into the WWII alternate timeline with both feet. However, in the world of "What If" I think this one is the most possible and I don't recall seeing it discussed. I recently became enthralled by the naval battles of the Pacific, especially in 1942, and the question I keep having is, what if the Japanese won Midway? Very little would have to change to beginning of the historical timeline. Imagine McClusky gives up finding the Japanese fleet 5 minutes before he found it. The American ambush of Kido Butia fails. Nagumo launches 4 full deck strikes and sinks all 3 US carriers. How would the war in the Pacific play out after such a defeat for the USN? Japanese defeat is still inevitable, but I imagine delayed by at least a year. Guadalcanal in 1942 would not have happened. The USN in the Pacific would surely have been much more cautious. The emphasis on submarine warfare would probably be increased. Also, Europe first would probably have been much more emphasized. At least until the Essex class carriers were available in sufficient numbers.

    Another interesting angle would be the Soviet impact on the war if they entered with a full year to go.

    Anyway what do you all think?
    "A foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse." Ulysses S. Grant

  • #2
    The Navy had other Carriers. It would have been harder but all the US would have lost is time.

    The USSR was having manpower problems in 1945. The Red Army was holding a much shorter line (Romania and other countries have switched sides). While the Red Amy would have still started off the Invasion of Manchuria with mainly Siberian located units, replacements would be a problem.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #3
      I see events in this case as:

      1. The Midway invasion fails because the amphibious assault Japan had planned was a farce. Japan goes home empty handed.
      2. The US brings Wasp around to reinforce the still extant Saratoga and the US adopts a more cautious set of operations until more carriers can be had.
      3. Guadalcanal still gets invaded, as that operation doesn't require US carrier support on any large scale. The US may or may not actively seek carrier battles like they did historically.
      4. US operations in the Aleutians go pretty much like they did historically so that doesn't change.
      5. After Torch in N. Africa, the Sangamon class CVE's go to the Pacific to make up for some of the carrier shortage.
      5. By 1943 the USN has new carriers and pretty much dominates Japan with the same results as occurred historically.

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      • #4
        I can't see the US invading Guadalcanal if they only have 2 carriers and the Japanese carrier fleet is still intact. It was a fairly close thing any way. If the Japanese could establish air superiority over Guadalcanal with carrier planes it would have been much harder for the US to hold. The Japanese could have resupplied at will and the US would have had nearly as hard a time to resupply as the Japanese did in real life. Also Admiral King had a hard time persuading the rest of the high command, both in Washington and in the Pacific, it was doable in real life. I don't think the US would have went for it in this scenario.
        The biggest change would have been a delay of nearly a year of the US counteroffensive until more carriers were available. There probably would have been several big carrier battles in 43. With another year to prepare the US offensive would have been harder. However, no matter what happened after, Japan's fate was sealed at Pearl Harbor.
        "A foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse." Ulysses S. Grant

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        • #5
          Originally posted by jonny87kz View Post
          I can't see the US invading Guadalcanal if they only have 2 carriers and the Japanese carrier fleet is still intact. It was a fairly close thing any way. If the Japanese could establish air superiority over Guadalcanal with carrier planes it would have been much harder for the US to hold. The Japanese could have resupplied at will and the US would have had nearly as hard a time to resupply as the Japanese did in real life. Also Admiral King had a hard time persuading the rest of the high command, both in Washington and in the Pacific, it was doable in real life. I don't think the US would have went for it in this scenario.
          The biggest change would have been a delay of nearly a year of the US counteroffensive until more carriers were available. There probably would have been several big carrier battles in 43. With another year to prepare the US offensive would have been harder. However, no matter what happened after, Japan's fate was sealed at Pearl Harbor.
          Why? Historically, there were three present: Saratoga, Wasp, and Enterprise. Here, only Enterprise isn't present. This scenario doesn't preclude that the Japanese carrier air groups hadn't taken heavy losses, even if the carriers were intact. In fact, I'd argue that to be the case. As with replacing the ones for Shokaku and Zuikaku, it's likely the Kido Butai would still be recovering from Midway.
          After all, the available Japanese carriers (Junyo, Hiyo, Shokaku, Zuikaku, and several light ones) didn't mass move to counter the US invasion historically. Instead, a scratch force from Rabul of cruisers and destroyers was sent to deal with the Americans. The Japanese didn't even know the strength of US forces on or off Guadalcanal at the time. The IJN found out only because their base on Tulagi island across the channel from Guadalcanal was taken.

          The IJA put together the only immediate unit they had available for a counter stroke: The Ichiki detachment that hadn't landed at Midway. Here, the IJA would have nothing for an immediate counter stroke so the land response would be even slower.
          As in the historical case, the Japanese would still be in the position of not being able to adequately supply their forces on Guadalcanal. The US could. They could run in APD which were fast destroyer transports that carried their own landing craft. US possession of Tulagi meant they could even leave the landing craft behind to harbor there or at Lunga Point where the USN built an NOB (Naval Operating Base). This is an almost forgotten side of the Guadalcanal campaign. The USN built a full base across from Guadalcanal almost unopposed except for the occasional air raid.



          The PT base at Tulagi Harbor in 1943, just one of the many installations the USN built there.

          Guadalcanal became the first forward base for the USN in "island hopping." The second Funafuti, could have gone down just as it did too given that the landing was unopposed, and that the Japanese didn't even find out the US had a major base there until the end of 1943 about six months after the base was started.
          Funafuti became the airfield the USAAF would use to send B-24 bombers against Tarawa. These frequent raids had two purposes. The first was to bomb the Japanese base. The second was to draw any Japanese fighters up and let them tangle with the heavily armed bombers that could damage or shoot them down.
          By that point the US was getting the first new Essex class in the Pacific. The four Sangamon class large CVE's were also there starting in early 1943. These operated separately as a group from the faster fleet carriers but were capable of putting up nearly 150 planes between them. They were first operating off the Solomon Islands at the beginning of 1943.

          So, I really don't think it would change much of anything.
          Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 13 Jun 19, 18:22.

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          • #6
            This scenario is handled in Rising Sun Victorious: Alternate Histories of the Pacific War (edited by Peter G. Tsouras). Basically, after a victory at Midway the Japanese launch a series of carrier based air attacks on California and try to block the Panama Canal by exploding a suicide ship in it. The Americans concentrate overwhelming air forces and repeal the Japanese attacks with heavy losses. This produces a delay of Allied offensive operations both in the Pacific and Europe (due to the resources moved to protect the West Coast). The ultimate outcome is however unchanged.

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            • #7
              Not a well thought out alternate, imo. How do you move and then fuel and refit the remaining Japanese carriers and their consorts way over off the west coast of the US. Japanese tankers and the ability refit at sea was limited (almost non-existent) and never close to what the USN and RN were capable of.

              The Japanese would probably be better off placing a 'distant' blockade on the Hawaiian islands and trying to draw out the last two US CVs. Another option is to switch the emphasis back to the Solomons and carry on with the strategy to isolate NZ and Australia by pushing forward to Noumea (French colony) and then perhaps Fiji. Since NZ and Australian supply lines were a major political issue this would have likely drawn out the USN as well.

              With the advantages held by the Zero (as escorts) along with Betty and Nell land based bombers in long range torpedo attacks the US would have had a tough row to hoe in 1943 to drive in the Japanese outer defence perimeter.
              Last edited by The Purist; 19 Jun 19, 16:36.
              The Purist

              Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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