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  • Schwerepunkt
    replied
    The older battleships.

    ..would not have been of much use in early 1942 except to guard the Pacific Coast (which is what Nimitz had them do). An excellent book on the Battle of Midway is Shattered Sword by Jon Parshall and Tony Tully. It exposes many myths about Midway.
    Under Plan Rainbow Five, the USN would have done exactly as it did in the Pacific, march slowly across, taking airfields and setting up logistical support for the next invasion. This was to have been in the Central Pacific and the New Guinea campaign was not forseen but did draw from Japanese strength. Rabaul and Truk would have been bypassed.
    Only if Japan had lost two or more carriers of the Kido Butai would the war at sea in the Pacific been changed to any large degree. While Japanese pilots were more experienced in 1942, the USN made up for it with sheer guts and tenacity. Coral Sea and Midway were indicative of what the USN could do despite the almost total devastation of two torpedo squadrons.

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  • Carl Schwamberg
    replied
    Originally posted by Surrey View Post
    So essentially the battleships sunk/crippled at Pearl would have been more of a hinderence than an asset if they had survived.
    Consider the historical record.

    The BB still available after 7 December were kept out of the way, near PH or the west coast. They were not sent to the ADBA command trying to defend Indonesia, to accompany the raids on Japanese bases and convoys from December through April. In preparing for the Midway battle the BB based at PH were positioned to cover the US west coast (against a cruisier raid??). The BB did very little in the way of offensive action until the Solomons campaign picked up in the late summer of 1942.

    Originally posted by Surrey View Post
    I suppose the main effect of a Japanese defeat at Pearl would have been psychological, without a quick victory elsewhere perhaps the Japanese would have even sued for peace.
    Well, Japan still would have had the sucessfull landing in Maylasia/Thailand, sunk the British BB, and destroyed the US airforce on the Phillpines islands. I suspect the IJN leaders had some sort of contingency plan were the carrier strike repulsed. My best guess is the Battleship Admirals would have abruptly returned to acendency and both sides planned for more aggressive use of the BB. Particularly in the case of the IJN who had the faster BB fleet afloat that winter.

    But, again lets take a look at the historical IJN actions during the winter. The campaigns in the PI, Maylasia, an Indonesia were largely fought with land based army aircraft. Some naval air wings participated but those were mostly land based with few carrier ops. For the most part the Japans carriers hung out in Japan or the Central Pacific patroling or futilly milling about after the USN raids. Was not until Febuary that a major strike force was asembled for operation C in the Indian Ocean.

    With the US Pacific fleet largely undamaged probablly the IJN would have sought the decisive fleet action at sea later that winter. Where & how that might occur depends on exactly how and where the USN risks its BB, if they are risked at all. Perhaps a effort to resupply the PI would be the one action deemed worth the risk.

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  • Surrey
    replied
    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
    Worst case is the USN gets caught in a naval battle near the Phillpines and loses a carrier or two there plus some BB & crusiers, trying to escourt a resupply convoy in.

    There is a popular idea that had the US battle fleet survived or escaped the PH attack it would have imeadiatly been sunk at sea rushing out to fight. The USN leaders understood the limits of the aging battle fleet, and were unsure of how effective their carriers might be. In the regular war games the USN leaders used for planning a Pacific the USN side often came out badly when early aggresive strategies were used. The course regarded as more sucessfull was of keeping at arms length, stalking the Japanese with raids, or battles at the extreme limts of Japanes reach. After US industry provided the quantity of weapons and logistics a general offensive would be undertaken.

    I am not exactly sure when the USN accepted its current battle fleet was not capable of decisive defeating the IJN at the outset of any likely war. Possibly as early as 1928, or perhaps earlier. In any case the attitude in the years just before WWII seems to have been one of enaging the IJN decisively only under obviously favorable circumstances. All this suggests that except for a few like Halsey the USN leaders of the Pacific fleet are going to exercise restraint. They still may error in many ways but a overconfident blind charge east is very unlikely.

    Preserving the bulk of the battle fleet means a half dozen aged BB available to operations in the South Pacific in 1942. Some will be sunk there and some will do some damage to the IJN as it fights its way to empty fuel bunkers. In the case of Midway, or the Coral Sea battles, or the several carrier raids of early 1942 the older BB will still be left to the rear covering the naval bases.

    By mid 1943 the cargo ships begain arriving in large quantity, along with the amphibious craft & later in the year the new Essex class carriers start becoming operational, so the general offensive will kick off as in OTL.
    So essentially the battleships sunk/crippled at Pearl would have been more of a hinderence than an asset if they had survived.

    I suppose the main effect of a Japanese defeat at Pearl would have been psychological, without a quick victory elsewhere perhaps the Japanese would have even sued for peace.

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  • Carl Schwamberg
    replied
    Originally posted by Surrey View Post
    Thanks, from looking at your link there were more than enough fighters based at Pearl to stop the Japanese attack, if they had been on alert. Plus they would have had the critical fuel advantage of operating over their bases and not having to go far to fight.

    I wonder how different ww2 in the east would have turned out had it opened with the Japanese fleet being forced to flee back to Japan after doing minimal damage and losing a large proportion of its aircraft.
    Worst case is the USN gets caught in a naval battle near the Phillpines and loses a carrier or two there plus some BB & crusiers, trying to escourt a resupply convoy in.

    There is a popular idea that had the US battle fleet survived or escaped the PH attack it would have imeadiatly been sunk at sea rushing out to fight. The USN leaders understood the limits of the aging battle fleet, and were unsure of how effective their carriers might be. In the regular war games the USN leaders used for planning a Pacific the USN side often came out badly when early aggresive strategies were used. The course regarded as more sucessfull was of keeping at arms length, stalking the Japanese with raids, or battles at the extreme limts of Japanes reach. After US industry provided the quantity of weapons and logistics a general offensive would be undertaken.

    I am not exactly sure when the USN accepted its current battle fleet was not capable of decisive defeating the IJN at the outset of any likely war. Possibly as early as 1928, or perhaps earlier. In any case the attitude in the years just before WWII seems to have been one of enaging the IJN decisively only under obviously favorable circumstances. All this suggests that except for a few like Halsey the USN leaders of the Pacific fleet are going to exercise restraint. They still may error in many ways but a overconfident blind charge east is very unlikely.

    Preserving the bulk of the battle fleet means a half dozen aged BB available to operations in the South Pacific in 1942. Some will be sunk there and some will do some damage to the IJN as it fights its way to empty fuel bunkers. In the case of Midway, or the Coral Sea battles, or the several carrier raids of early 1942 the older BB will still be left to the rear covering the naval bases.

    By mid 1943 the cargo ships begain arriving in large quantity, along with the amphibious craft & later in the year the new Essex class carriers start becoming operational, so the general offensive will kick off as in OTL.
    Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 21 Aug 09, 18:31.

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  • Surrey
    replied
    Originally posted by 88L71 View Post
    also if the fighters were alert I'm assuming the AA gun crews would be ready as well...
    A double edged sword, one of the few defending fighters to get airborne was shot down by AA guns...

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  • 88L71
    replied
    also if the fighters were alert I'm assuming the AA gun crews would be ready as well...

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  • Surrey
    replied
    Originally posted by The Doctor View Post
    I think that to a large degree, they could have. There were 98 P-40's, 39 P-36's and a dozen P-26's at Wheeler and another 8 P-40's and 2 P-36's at Haleiwa. Plus there were 29 USMC and USN fighters (21 F4F's and 8 F2A's) at Ewa and Ford Island...SOURCE

    If the fleet was at GQ at dawn, a large CAP up and the rest of the fighters fueled, armed and on alert status... The IJN would have lost a lot of aircraft and done far less damage to the fleet.
    Thanks, from looking at your link there were more than enough fighters based at Pearl to stop the Japanese attack, if they had been on alert. Plus they would have had the critical fuel advantage of operating over their bases and not having to go far to fight.

    I wonder how different ww2 in the east would have turned out had it opened with the Japanese fleet being forced to flee back to Japan after doing minimal damage and losing a large proportion of its aircraft.

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  • The Doctor
    replied
    Originally posted by Surrey View Post
    How about a bit of a variation on the above scenario, with less varaition from history.

    What if the USN weren't taken completely by surprise and Hawaii was on alert when the Japanese attacked. If the fighters based at Pearl were airborne when the attack occurred could they have successfully defended the fleet?
    I think that to a large degree, they could have. There were 98 P-40's, 39 P-36's and a dozen P-26's at Wheeler and another 8 P-40's and 2 P-36's at Haleiwa. Plus there were 29 USMC and USN fighters (21 F4F's and 8 F2A's) at Ewa and Ford Island...SOURCE

    If the fleet was at GQ at dawn, a large CAP up and the rest of the fighters fueled, armed and on alert status... The IJN would have lost a lot of aircraft and done far less damage to the fleet.

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  • Surrey
    replied
    How about a bit of a variation on the above scenario, with less varaition from history.

    What if the USN weren't taken completely by surprise and Hawaii was on alert when the Japanese attacked. If the fighters based at Pearl were airborne when the attack occurred could they have successfully defended the fleet?

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  • cst784
    replied
    Originally posted by The Doctor View Post
    First... There was no invasion fleet; there were two supply trains with a total of eight fleet oilers and replenishment ships. The supply trains were well back of the carrier divisions and battleship division.

    The Japanese did not think they would catch us by such total surprise. They had their eyes open all the way in.

    If our fleet did sortie, the carriers could not have effectively operated with the battleships. Enterprise and Lexington carried very few fighters at that time. Lexington had 17 F2A Buffaloes and Enterprise had 14 F4F-3 Wildcats. The Japanese had over 80 Zeros. Our aviators were inexperienced. The Japanese were highly trained with some combat experience.

    31 fighters, more than half of which were obsolete (VMF-221's Buffaloes were annihilated by Zeros at Midway), couldn't provide CAP for the carriers and the battleships and provide adequate escorts for the SBD's and TBD's.

    I just don't think our old BB's could have closed on Kirishima and Hiei during daylight hours without being devastated by air attacks. If it was a night engagement, the IJN DD's and CA's would have wreaked havoc with torpedo attacks.

    Hiei and Kirishima could make 30 kts... Our old BB's were doing good if they made 20 kts.

    For this scenario to have had a happy ending for the US Navy, it would have required a bigger miracle than Midway.
    Just to expand a bit on Doc's comments here;

    The Kido Butai at Pearl Harbor consisted of the 6 carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku), 2 fast BB's of 3rd battleship div (Hiei and Kirishima), 2 CA's of 8th Cruiser Div (Tone and Chikuma), and 1st Destroyer Squadron consisting of the light cruiser Abukuma along with 6 Kagero class DD's and 2 Asashio class DD's. On the day before the Pearl Harbor strike this force turned south approaching Midway at 24kts. The slowest ship in the force was in fact the Kaga rated at 28 kts top speed. The US battleships at Pearl Harbor during this time were rated at either 20.5 or 21 kts. Plainly obvious that the entire Japanese force could easily outrun the US battleline. The US battlewagons could not even generate enough speed to operate with their own carriers thus Nimitz not sending them out with the carriers at any point in 1942. In wasn't until the North Carolina and South Dakota class BB's started coming out in Aug 42 that the US BB's had sufficient speeds to operate within a carrier task force.

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  • Carl Schwamberg
    replied
    Originally posted by peter_sym View Post
    Agreed. Hoping to do it again is too much, but miracles do happen.

    Frankly in Dec 41 the IJN air group is vastly superior to the US. In the sky the US will get whipped by the Zeros. With no air cover its not looking good for the US Navy.
    Good reason to use the fleet evacuated from PH to go off and raid Truk ect... let the IJN waste its precious fuel chasing the USN.

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  • peter_sym
    replied
    Originally posted by bubblehead View Post
    As miracles go, Midway is as good as it gets!
    Agreed. Hoping to do it again is too much, but miracles do happen.

    Frankly in Dec 41 the IJN air group is vastly superior to the US. In the sky the US will get whipped by the Zeros. With no air cover its not looking good for the US Navy.

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  • Carl Schwamberg
    replied
    The only way I can see the USN getting in a killer blow vs the IJN battle fleet would be to make a dawn interception from the west. That would require luck several orders of magintude larger than Midway to position the US battle fleet correctly. The one tiny advantage the USN had in Dec 1941 was search radar on a few of the ships. If they had approached (by accident) the IJN from the south (incredible luck #1), gotten a good fix with the search radar during the night (lucky #2), use the radar to track & manuver the US battle line to the west of the IJN fleet (just a fair amount of luck for that - #3), and pulled that off without the IJN signals intel operators detecting the USN radio transmissions or a picket destroyer sppoting them (too much luck #4).

    Then at dawn, just as the first IJN aircraft are leaving the flight decks the US battle fleet opens fire on the IJN fleet silloutted in the hazy sunrise. The USN air strike launched from a few miles to the rear of the battle line should be able to get through the tiny CAP & drop its few bombs to add to the embarassment. With a bit more luck (#5) the IJN will take a pounding for a few too many minutes before making a coherent reaction. Probable result would be 2 - 4 IJN carriers damaged along with several BB & cruisers. Perhaps a few sunk as well.

    Now if the USN is right with God & keeps rolling sixes the bulk of the strike force can escape to the west & into the storm front the IJN had passed through previously. (luck beyond belief #6)

    Better would be to stumble across the IJN fleet train and nail the two tankers. Then escape SW. Nagumo would have to balance continuing the strike at Oahu against a unknown fleet lurking to his rear and a embarassing lack of fuel

    Best would be to evacuate the fleet the night before, to the South West out of Nagumos. Instead of the reinforcement mission to Wake ect... send the carriers off to strike at Truk, with priority to the fuel storage and any tanker ships there. Fuel was a weak point of the IJN and turning the reserve at Truk into a global warming contribution would give Nagumo & Yamamoto something to ponder

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  • The Doctor
    replied
    Originally posted by bubblehead View Post
    As miracles go, Midway is as good as it gets!
    A damn good book too!

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  • bubblehead
    replied
    As miracles go, Midway is as good as it gets!

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