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  • Midway - A Near Run Thing

    This alternative springs forth from the current 'Armchair Attacks' thread. Rather than try to concoct some catastrophe for the USN at Midway I am proposing something more tame and arguably more realistically possible taking into account what both sides knew,...or thought they knew.

    Everything leading up to the morning of June 4th near Midway remains the same, except as noted below,

    June 4th 1942 -

    0430 - 108 Japanese a/c launch to attack Midway Island with the normal 50% of the force held back in reserve as per Japanese doctrine. Both sides launch scouts, (change) the Tone launches without problems.

    0520 - USN PBY spots Japanese carrier fleet.

    0620- 0635 Midway Island is attacked, the defending fighters are savaged and the ground facilities are heavily damaged.

    0705 - Hornet and Enterprise launch 116 a/c to target Japanese carriers.

    0715 - Nagumo orders rearming of aircraft for second strike.

    0730 (change) - Tone reports conatct with Yorktown carrier group. Nagumo suspends rearming of Torpedo bombers. Japanese reserve force launches with Kate torpedo bombers but Val divebombers have GP bombs instead of AP bombs.

    0830 - Yorktown launches strike of 29 TBD and SBD. (Change) Japanese and US strike forces pass each other unnoticed en route to their targets. Second contact of one US carrier reported to Japenese fleet.

    0930-1100 (Change) US attack aircraft find Japanese carriers and pummel Kaga, Akagi and Soryu. Yorktown task force is found by Japanese strike force of 66 a/c and the carrier is ripped apart, various other ships damaged. Remaining 42 Japanese a/c head for Enterprise and Hornet. Hornet is heavily damaged but Enterprise comes through the attack with only minor damage from GP bombs. Flight deck is inoperable and Enterprise begins to withdraw.

    Both sides have lost heavily in aircraft and are down to one carrier and fewer than 40 a/c. Yorktown, Akagi, Kaga and Soryu sink.

    1430-1500 Hiryu's last sortie finds Hornet and finishes off the heavily damaged US carrier but do not find Enterprise. As night falls, the US fleet slips away and the Midway garrison makes ready to receive the invasion.

    June 5th 1942 -

    Hiryu together with Zuiho and Hosho attempt to knock out Midway defences but fail to do much damage while losing more a/c. Japanese bombardment group closes on Midway and in a duel with shore batteries manages to knock out most of the guns but at the cost of two destroyers sunk and one cruiser heavily damaged.

    Yamamoto orders his main force with battleships to close with the island and silence the remaining shore batteries before commencing the invasion. The two island are literally blown apart under the 14", 16" and 18" main guns while the Marines are unable to hit back at the Japanese battle wagons.

    June 6th, 1942 -

    Midway Island is invaded and despite the heavy shelling the previous day the surviving marines put up a spirited defence. The issue is never really in doubt, the Japanese take substantial casualties (exceeding 50%) but the last American defenders are killed or captured by mid-afternoon. Midway has fallen.

    Aftermath -

    The US Navy is left with the Enterprise, Wasp and Saratoga and will be joined by the new CVE USS Copahee, just commisioned in Puget Sound.

    The Japanese have the Hiryu, Zuikaku, Shokaku and Junyo supported by the CVLs Zuiho, Ryuju and the CVE Hosho.

    What next folks?
    Last edited by The Purist; 29 Sep 08, 22:30.
    The Purist

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

  • #2
    What happens? A lull, and then the beginning of the Guadalcanal campaign, almost on schedule.

    Midway is useless as a base. No infrastructure to support carrier operations and too far from Hawaii for land based aircraft to be a significant threat. The Americans can ignore it or retake it at their leisure as their strength builds.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by The Purist View Post
      This alternative springs forth from the current 'Armchair Attacks' thread. Rather than try to concoct some catastrophe for the USN at Midway I am proposing something more tame and arguably more realistically possible taking into account what both sides knew,...or thought they knew.

      Everything leading up to the morning of June 4th near Midway remains the same, except as noted below,

      June 4th 1942 -

      0430 - 108 Japanese a/c launch to attack Midway Island with the normal 50% of the force held back in reserve as per Japanese doctrine. Both sides launch scouts, (change) the Tone launches without problems.

      0520 - USN PBY spots Japanese carrier fleet.

      0620- 0635 Midway Island is attacked, the defending fighters are savaged and the ground facilities are heavily damaged.

      0705 - Hornet and Enterprise launch 116 a/c to target Japanese carriers.

      0715 - Nagumo orders rearming of aircraft for second strike.

      0730 (change) - Tone reports conatct with Yorktown carrier group. Nagumo suspends rearming of Torpedo bombers. Japanese reserve force launches with Kate torpedo bombers but Val divebombers have GP bombs instead of AP bombs.

      0830 - Yorktown launches strike of 29 TBD and SBD. (Change) Japanese and US strike forces pass each other unnoticed en route to their targets. Second contact of one US carrier reported to Japenese fleet.

      0930-1100 (Change) US attack aircraft find Japanese carriers and pummel Kaga, Akagi and Soryu. Yorktown task force is found by Japanese strike force of 66 a/c and the carrier is sunk, other ships damaged. Remaining 42 Japanese a/c head for Enterprise and Hornet. Hornet is heavily damaged but Enterprise comes through the attack with only minor damage from GP bombs. Flight deck is inoperable and Enterprise begins to withdraw

      Both sides have lost heavily in aircraft and are down to one carrier and fewer than 40 a/c. Yorktown, Akagi, Kaga and Soryu sink.

      1430-1500 Hiryu's last sortie finds Hornet and finishes off the heavily damaged US carrier but do not find Enterprise. As night falls, the US fleet slips away and the Midway garrison makes ready to receive the invasion.

      June 5th 1942 -

      Hiryu together with Zuiho and Hosho attempt to knock out Midway defences but fail to do much damage while losing more a/c. Japanese bombardment group closes on midway and in a duel with shore batteries manages to knock out most of the guns but at the cost of two destroyers sunk and one cruiser heavily damaged.

      Yamamoto orders his main force with battleships to close with the island and silence the remaining shore batteries before commencing the invasion. The two island are literally blown apart under the 14", 16" and 18" main guns while the Marines are unable to hit back at the Japanese battle wagons.

      June 6th, 1942 -

      Midway Island is invaded and despite the heavy shelling the previous day the surviving marines put up a spirited defence. The issue is never really in doubt, the Japanese take substantial casualties (exceeding 50%) but the last American defenders are killed or captured by midafternoon. Midway has fallen.

      Aftermath -

      The US Navy is left with the Enterprise, Wasp and Saratoga and will be joined by the new CVE USS Copahee, just commisioned in Puget Sound.

      The Japanese have the Hiryu, Zuikaku, Shokaku and Junyu supported by the CVLs Zuiho, Ryuju and the CVE Hosho.

      What next folks?
      IIRC, the Hosho is several hundred miles away from Midway on 5 June, at the rear of the Japanese strike force.
      Historically speaking, the Saratoga arrives on 6 June with 100 aircraft on her flight deck and hangar, both her own and replacements for US battle losses.

      Also, I don't believe the Japanese could take Midway using SNLF troops. They did not have the same tenacity, know-how and savage fighting abilities of their US counterparts and often suffered heavy casualties and complete reverses when they were committed to battle in WWII. The Marines at Wake were on the verge of winning their battle on 23 December, 1941 when the surrender order came through. Had the island garrison's headquarters enjoyed better radio communications with their troops in the field, the Japanese might have been faced with the fact that their invasion was another failure.

      Midway was an extremely well fortified island atoll. Elements of three full, Marine Defense Battalions, plus two companies of Marine Raiders, along with their full compliment of heavy and anti-aircraft artillery, machineguns and supporting arms were dug in and waiting. Both islands posessed 7" and 5" guns, meaning that any offshore bombardment ships would have to stay well offshore, or risk extremely effective and accurate counterbattery fire as was evidenced during the first Wake Island invasion attempt. After Wake Island fell, the Japanese ordered US Marines to show them their 16" gun positions that they had sunk so many of their ships with during the first invasion attempt.

      Midway's flak armament ranged in size from both 30 and 50 caliber watercooled machineguns to 20mm Oerlikon guns (The first US ones to be deployed on land mounts in WWII) , up to 37mm and ending with several, five-gun batteries of 3"-75mm guns. There was also a platoon of M-3 Stuart tanks on the island.

      IIRC, there is only one way through that coral reef surrounding the atoll and that's where the marines placed the heaviest concentrations of firepower. From their reinforced concrete pillboxes, the Marines would have made hash out of any diahatsu's that were brave enough to run that gauntlet of fire. It would have been Tarawa in reverse, except the Japanese could not rely on the same advantages the USMC enjoyed.

      In the case of Midway, Nimitz would not have ordered the Enterprise withdrawn, especially with the Saratoga virtually on the far horizon. This was a US Fleet opposed invasion. The Japanese might have attempted to invade on 6 June, but they would have been under attack by Enterprise and Saratoga aircraft.
      Last edited by johnbryan; 30 Sep 08, 00:09.
      "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by DingBat View Post
        What happens? A lull, and then the beginning of the Guadalcanal campaign, almost on schedule.

        Midway is useless as a base. No infrastructure to support carrier operations and too far from Hawaii for land based aircraft to be a significant threat. The Americans can ignore it or retake it at their leisure as their strength builds.
        How many US carriers did the Japanese really conclude they had sunk at Midway? Not the pilots claims, but the logical conclusions of the intellegence officers. I understand they knew they had failed to eliminate the remaining US battle ships.

        With the two carriers repaired the Solomons/New Guniea fights play out as per history. Just maybe Operation Watchtower is delayed a week or two, but thats about it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by johnbryan
          IIRC, the Hosho is several hundred miles away from Midway on 5 June, at the rear of the Japanese strike force.
          Historically speaking, the Saratoga arrives on 6 June with 100 aircraft on her flight deck and hangar, both her own and replacements for US battle losses.
          Hosho only carries about 10 aircraft but Saratoga will be alone (Big E's flight deck is out of action)

          Originally posted by johnbryan
          Also, I don't believe the Japanese could take Midway using SNLF troops. They did not have the same tenacity, know-how and savage fighting abilities of their US counterparts and often suffered heavy casualties and complete reverses when they were committed to battle in WWII....
          Perhaps,...but here the Japanese battleships spend the time to destroy the islands defences. I'm sure you have seen the size of the islands, with the number of BBs and CAs, the Japanese fleet could have torn the coral islands to pieces without further risk from the remaining 5" and 7" guns. As with all 'what-if' scenarios these events are completely unprovable,...thus the script has the island fall after the pounding by 11 BBs and their attending cruisers.[/QUOTE]

          Originally posted by johnbryan
          In the case of Midway, Nimitz would not have ordered the Enterprise withdrawn, especially with the Saratoga virtually on the far horizon. This was a US Fleet opposed invasion. The Japanese might have attempted to invade on 6 June, but they would have been under attack by Enterprise and Saratoga aircraft.
          Enterprise has no flight deck but is otherwise operational, Hornet and Yorktown sunk. In our story, Enterprise withdraws and Midway falls,...what happens next?
          Last edited by The Purist; 30 Sep 08, 00:54.
          The Purist

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

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
            How many US carriers did the Japanese really conclude they had sunk at Midway? Not the pilots claims, but the logical conclusions of the intellegence officers. I understand they knew they had failed to eliminate the remaining US battle ships.

            With the two carriers repaired the Solomons/New Guniea fights play out as per history. Just maybe Operation Watchtower is delayed a week or two, but thats about it.
            As noted the US is down one carrier (Hornet) while the Japanese are up one carrier (Hiryu). What effect this will have on the two sides next moves is up to the members. Just remember,...take the story from this point forward.

            The point of this is to give those folks who believe the Japanese can capitlize on a Midway victory a forum to try and prove their point. I tried to stick to a logical and believable "alternate" without resorting to an unbelievable twisting of events.

            So,...with four fleet carriers and three smaller carriers facing three US carriers and one brand new CVE should the Japanese continue with their planned offensive into the Solomons in July or abandon that plan and try for Hawaii?
            Last edited by The Purist; 30 Sep 08, 00:55.
            The Purist

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

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by The Purist View Post



              Perhaps,...but here the Japanese battleships spend the time to destroy the islands defences. I'm sure you have seen the size of the islands, with the number of BBs and CAs, the Japanese fleet could have torn the coral islands to pieces without further risk to the remaining 5" and 7" guns. As with all 'what-if' scenarios they are completely unprovable,...thus the script has the island fall after the pounding by 11 bBs and their cruisers.


              I'm afraid that you are still putting the cart before the horse. The Japanese were unable to destroy the comparatively small US Marine perimeter and airfields a few months later on Guadalcanal, in spite of several night's worth of intensive battleship and heavy cruiser gunfire. What's more, the Marines there had only their foxholes to rely on for cover and not pillboxes constructed of reinforced concrete found on Midway.

              A single day's battleship bombardment didn't knock out the guns and pillboxes on Tarawa or Iwo Jima and they wouldn't do it at Midway Island either. Tarawa was an even smaller target than Midway. What's more, the US Navy had many more warships engaged in softening up the Japanese defenses. It would have taken the Japanese several days worth of sustained, scientifically conducted battleship bombardment to do that sort of task properly and they simply didn't have that much time. US Marine 7" and 5" gunfire probably wouldn't pierce Japanese Battleship main belt armor, but it would play merry hell with their tophamper and the unarmored positions on and about the main deck and secondary positions as well.

              There were only two occasions during the Pacific War that amphibious invasions were driven off by defensive fires. One was brought about by Australians who drove off the Japanese Special Naval Landing Troops at Milne Bay in 1943 and the other was done by US Marines at Wake Island who shot to pieces the initial attack on their island in early December, 1941.
              "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by johnbryan
                I'm afraid that you are still putting the cart before the horse....
                Briefly,...Midway is *tiny*,....literally no longer than the runway. Even at low tide you could almost hit a baseball across the island (Sand, iirc), which is only two miles long and less than 40 ft above sea level. Eastern is even smaller. Tarawa is a large island in comparison. Eleven BBs and the cruisers, once ranged in, would practically erase these rocks from the surface of the ocean

                Anyway,....there is no need to discuss the script. Midway falls,...let's move on to Japan's next move.
                Last edited by The Purist; 30 Sep 08, 01:18.
                The Purist

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

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                  Briefly,...Midway is *tiny*,....literally no longer than the runway. Even at low tide you could almost hit a baseball across the island. Kure is even smaller. Tarawa is a large island in comparison. Eleven BBs and the cruisers, once ranged in, would practically erase these rocks from the surface of the ocean

                  Anyway,....there is no need to discuss the script. Midway falls,...let's move on to Japan's next move.
                  First of all, Betio Island, Tarawa atoll is for the most part, nothing more than an airfield and very much comparative in size to Midway's two main islands, if not smaller. Second of all, you are asking me to accept the premise of the total destruction of roughly a regimental sized contingent of highly trained, US Marines, also hundreds more Navy Bluejackets and Army personel, by what has been historically demonstrated to be, comparatively speaking, second rate troops. Lastly, you are implying that the IJN will "erase" these rocks from the surface of the ocean in one day's time, which never happened in WW II and is in no way historically correct or even proveable. Why don't you make the scenerio more believeable and say that Gorgo or King Kong squashed Midway flat with its feet before incinerating it and then carry on from there?
                  "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                    ... Second of all, you are asking me to accept the premise of the total destruction of roughly a regimental sized contingent of highly trained, US Marines, also hundreds more Navy Bluejackets and Army personel, by what has been historically demonstrated to be, comparatively speaking, second rate troops.
                    It is not nearly a reg't, John. The defense consisted of the 6th Marine Def Bn (reinforced by elements of the 3rd Bn and two companies of the 2nd Raider Bn). Let's not try to make out more than what it was. Plenty of AA guns but these would not have lasted long under the Japanese heavy guns from the BBs and such (no overhead protection). Despite the heavy AA, including all thsoe .50 cal AA machine guns, the Japanes did make a mess of the air force facilities.

                    Once the the BBs and CAs open up for a few hours the troops will suffer badly and the survivors will exact their revenge on the attackers before they go down under the bayonet.

                    Play or not,...I don't really care. There can no advancement of the discussion unless the island falls,...so fall it must.
                    The Purist

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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would guess that the Japanese would have been able to get their airfield on Guadalcanal up and running then attempted to continue their plans which were to complete the conquest of New Guinea before moving on towards Fiji, New Caledonia and Samoa. I don't think the US launches Watchtower for the fact that since your scenario call for the loss of Yorktown and Hornet with heavy damage to Enterprise, Nimitz is less likely to go on the offensive at this time and more likely to circle the wagons around Hawaii and keep what little forces there awaiting the arrival of the Essex class carriers that would start showing up a little les than a year later.
                      Bill

                      "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy"

                      Billy Currington

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                      • #12
                        John

                        You can't compare Tarawa with this scenario. The USN had a flawed doctrine for Tarawa. They moved in close and fired flat trajectory shots that skipped off the island and did no damage. Many accounts speak of the shells from the big guns skipping off the island.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                          John

                          You can't compare Tarawa with this scenario. The USN had a flawed doctrine for Tarawa. They moved in close and fired flat trajectory shots that skipped off the island and did no damage. Many accounts speak of the shells from the big guns skipping off the island.
                          Of course you can. US Marine General's Holland Smith and Julian Smith rightfully requested one to two days additional pre-invasion gunfire and aerial bombardment by the navy to soften up Betio but were turned down. The Marines paid the price in blood for the navy's stupidity.
                          Last edited by johnbryan; 30 Sep 08, 14:34.
                          "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                            US Marine General's Holland Smith and Julian Smith rightfully requested one to two days additional pre-invasion gunfire and aerial bombardment by the navy to soften up Betio but were turned down. .

                            Two days of flawed doctrine bombardment would not have done much other than chop down every palm tree. The Japanese troops rode out the bombardment unscathed in their bunkers as the big shells skipped off the island and failed to explode.

                            What was needed was the battleships to stand off so their shells come in at near vertical. They would have then penetrated the ground and shattered the defender's bunkers.

                            Read Alexander's Utmost Savagery and you see that was his observation.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                              It is not nearly a reg't, John. The defense consisted of the 6th Marine Def Bn (reinforced by elements of the 3rd Bn and two companies of the 2nd Raider Bn). Let's not try to make out more than what it was. Plenty of AA guns but these would not have lasted long under the Japanese heavy guns from the BBs and such (no overhead protection). Despite the heavy AA, including all thsoe .50 cal AA machine guns, the Japanes did make a mess of the air force facilities.

                              Once the the BBs and CAs open up for a few hours the troops will suffer badly and the survivors will exact their revenge on the attackers before they go down under the bayonet.
                              There were 1,500 US Marines on Sand Island and 1,000 Army personel on Eastern Island. There were also several hundred Navy Blue Jackets running the Navy Yard as well.

                              844 men of the 6th Marine Defense Battalion
                              100 men of Batteries A&C. 4th Marine Defense Battalion
                              114 men of Battery B, 4th Marine Defense Battalion
                              270 men of 2 Rifle Companies of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.*

                              A partial return of the island's armament consisted of

                              4-7" guns
                              6-5" guns
                              24-3" DP guns
                              8-37mm AAA guns
                              18-20mm AAAguns
                              42-.50 caliber watercooled machineguns
                              30-.30 caliber watercooled machineguns
                              5-M-3 Stuart tanks

                              107 aircraft

                              * The two Marine Raider Rifle Companies had their own indigenous TOE of weapons.
                              "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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