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What if Midway is taken by the Japanese on Dec 7th 1941.

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  • What if Midway is taken by the Japanese on Dec 7th 1941.

    Midway was important to the Japanese in the following year. But what if they used the suprise attack method on Midway that day too.
    Japan would have damaged the US fleet badly and had the very strategic island with its navy completely intact.
    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by copenhagen; 18 Jan 10, 12:44.

  • #2
    IMHO Midway hardly matters if they don't take Hawaii, and if they DO take Hawaii then Midway is only incidental.

    What Japan had to do was make it logistically as difficult as possible for the US to project power into the SWP. With Hawaii as a jumping-off point the US was able to go pretty much wherever she wanted. Without Hawaii, we're left staging out of Australia and Hawaii will be a thorn in our sides until we take it back. We eventually would have retaken Hawaii, but it was going to be VERY difficult.

    In fact, if Japan takes Hawaii the allies might have done the island-hopping from the north, starting in the Kuriles instead of the Solomons. (I seem to remember reading somewhere it was seriously considered)

    The allies COULD have proceeded via the Solomons, it just would have required staging out of Australia instead of Hawaii and the LOOOONG supply lines that would have required.

    Japan lost the war on the first day.

    "Strange game, professor! The only way to win is not to play." (Wargames)

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    • #3
      Midway was an exceptional US victory. Even if they lost that battle they would still have won the war.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by bubblehead View Post
        Japan lost the war on the first day.
        Agreed.
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        • #5
          Going through the Kuriles is intriguing, but would it be possible without making the Alcan Highway (which took years) and/or building up bases in Alaska? Would Seattle/San Francisco/Vancouver be enough in themselves, given poor weather in that area of the North Pacific?

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          • #6
            In 1941?
            WHat would teh Japanese take it WITH ? The group that failed so spectacularly to take Wake?
            "Why is the Rum gone?"

            -Captain Jack

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
              In 1941?
              WHat would teh Japanese take it WITH ? The group that failed so spectacularly to take Wake?
              And its what, another 1000 miles from Wake to Midway?

              Offhand, do you know the Midway garrison in December 1941?

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              • #8
                Midway, like Wake had a Marine Defense battalion on it. Unlike Wake the battalion on Midway was more complete and had been there longer giving more time to get entrenched.
                If the Japanese performed like they did at Wake the landing would have likely been repulsed with heavy losses and been a defeat for the Japanese.

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                • #9
                  The Japanese would have been better off hitting the fuel depot. No fuel, no sail! The fleet might have had to retreat to San Diego.

                  Pruitt
                  Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                    Midway, like Wake had a Marine Defense battalion on it. Unlike Wake the battalion on Midway was more complete and had been there longer giving more time to get entrenched.
                    If the Japanese performed like they did at Wake the landing would have likely been repulsed with heavy losses and been a defeat for the Japanese.
                    Thanks.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                      And its what, another 1000 miles from Wake to Midway?

                      Offhand, do you know the Midway garrison in December 1941?
                      According to the USMC in WWII, Midway's garrison as of 7, December 1941 was 810 Enlisted men and 33 Officers. Midway had six, 5-inch naval guns and 12, 3-inch dual purpose guns along with 30, .50 caliber machine guns and 30, .30 caliber machinguns.

                      "For armament the outposts relied mainly on the organic weapons of the defense battalions: 5-inch naval guns, 3-inch antiaircraft guns, and .30 and .50 caliber machine guns. Midway had, in addition, three 7-inch naval guns still to be mounted and a fourth gun at Pearl Harbor waiting to be shipped."
                      "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                      • #12
                        Ah! There you are John. I knew you'd pipe up once you saw this thread.

                        Yes a defence battalion with a handful of of 76mm and 120mm guns. Now, against a Wake style attack and no heavy BB or CA support, the Marines would have likely held the island. However, if the Japanese sent along a bombardment force of perhaps two older BBs and four or five cruisers,... maybe a light carrier, they could have blasted the gun positions to scrap and badly mauled the garrison, before the SNLF battalions go in.

                        The two islands are small enough that 8", 10" and 14" shells are going wreck the emplacements and dugouts of the Marines and many would have died under the heavy shelling. How the actual landings go after that depends on who survives and what they can manage with rifles and a few surviving machine guns. If the first wave is repulsed, I am sure the Japanese would plaster the island some more until the garrison was crushed before attempting a second go.

                        Of course, all this nets the Japanese nothing. Hawaii is too far away for escorts and even the Betty would have such a light load that the bombers would do little to US defences. Most would simply be swept from the skies by P-40s and P-38s. However, even this is unlikely since the Japanese would have had to utterly destroy the facilities in order to capture them. Midway is a dead end (literally).
                        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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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tuor View Post
                          Going through the Kuriles is intriguing, but would it be possible without making the Alcan Highway (which took years) and/or building up bases in Alaska? Would Seattle/San Francisco/Vancouver be enough in themselves, given poor weather in that area of the North Pacific?
                          It was still going to be naval amphibious operations. On the plus side, if the Japanese have occupied Midway and Hawaii, they have not occupied the kuriles and most of the operation will be unopposed.

                          On the minus side the weather IS frightful most of the time, making aircraft operations very difficult.

                          Then, there's the landings on the Kamchatka penensula (if the Soviets even allow it), followed by building airstrips and anchorage there under brutal conditions.

                          Next you need Sakhalin Island (again, if the Soviets allow) under less brutal conditions, followed by the invasion of Hokkaiddo.

                          Long before this you will surely have drawn the bulk of Japanese naval forces into the north pacific where several tremendous naval engagements are sure to occur.

                          However, the weather on Hokkaiddo is much better and year-round bombing of the remaining home islands can commence while subsequent invasions of the other islands can be supported, if necessary.

                          I have not played out this scenario, nor have I studied it. However, I am sure there was a study of the "northern option" that concluded the weather was simply too hard to cope with; but that's after Midway.

                          Anybody else have a feel for how practical this might have been?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                            Ah! There you are John. I knew you'd pipe up once you saw this thread.

                            Yes a defence battalion with a handful of of 76mm and 120mm guns. Now, against a Wake style attack and no heavy BB or CA support, the Marines would have likely held the island. However, if the Japanese sent along a bombardment force of perhaps two older BBs and four or five cruisers,... maybe a light carrier, they could have blasted the gun positions to scrap and badly mauled the garrison, before the SNLF battalions go in.

                            The two islands are small enough that 8", 10" and 14" shells are going wreck the emplacements and dugouts of the Marines and many would have died under the heavy shelling. How the actual landings go after that depends on who survives and what they can manage with rifles and a few surviving machine guns. If the first wave is repulsed, I am sure the Japanese would plaster the island some more until the garrison was crushed before attempting a second go.
                            You are speaking apples vs. oranges here. Midway's garrison and TOE of armaments on 7, December 1941 were far different and much smaller than what the Japanese found in June, 1942. By June, the number of naval guns and dual purpose/AAA gun numbers had been more than doubled with the addition of another battery of 4-5-inch guns, one, four-gun battery of 7-inch guns, 3, four-gun battery's of 3-inch guns, an 8-gun battery of 37mm and an 18-gun battery of 20mm AAA guns. Added to this were elements of 2 additional US Marine Defense Battalions, besides the full strength, 6th Marine Defense Battalion already on Midway, 2 rifle companies of Marine Raiders and a platoon of M-3 Stuart tanks.

                            At the same time, you are far overestimating the effectiveness of Japanese battleship gunfire, which proved to be far less effective than what the US Navy threw at Tarawa, the following year. Compounding this was the extremely poor communications between Japanese elements on shore to their friendly bombarding ships. Because of the IJN's traditional doctrine of avoiding ship to shore bombardment using battleships, the necessary wherewithal of effective communications between ship to shore had never been worked out to the degree as was found and practiced by the US Navy.
                            Lastly, for battleship gunfire to be effective, they have to be located relatively close to the hostile shore and Midway's 7-inch and 5-inch guns would make that a costly proposition. The Japanese did not like to have their battleships dented, dinged or damaged in any way shape or form. Afterall, they were going to use them for that grand, "Jutland Style Battle" of the Pacific

                            Midway's geography was far different than Wake Island's with only one narrow, usable entrance into its lagoon through the coral reef. To make matters worse for the Japanese, they had no amphibibious tractors to cross the reef, only diahatsu landing craft, a primative form of the US LCVP and they couldn't cut it anymore than the US LCVP's did at Tarawa. It wouldn't be difficult to figure out where many, if not all of those US Naval guns would be zeroed in at. Any attempt to cross the reef using landing craft would be frustrated, not only by the reef itself, but by the Marine garrison that was well dug in inside of pilboxes or trenches and posessing more automatic weapons than what their TOE called for.

                            Japanese SNLF troops were very good at two things and that was fighting on the defensive and seizing an undefended shoreline. During WWII, whenever they attempted to assault a defended shore, their casualty numbers were enourmous and oftentimes resulted in their units near or total destruction as what was evidenced on Wake Island on two occasions, Guadalcanal and a number of other battles during the Pacific War. The SNLF were not "Marines" in the traditional sense of the British Royal Marines or the USMC. They were little more than sailors who had been issued rifles. Also, in the case of Midway, the Japanese did not posess the needed 3-1 margin of superiority of manpower numbers needed to overcome the numbers of US Marines, Navy bluejackets and Army troops dug in there. Any Japanese invasion would have been a massacre for them and once they were all lying KIA in front of the defender's guns, there would be no replacements for them.

                            The USMC threw something like three divisions at Tarawa and the issue remained in doubt for over two days and that was while using surperiority in numbers of manpower, overwhelming airpower and pinpoint, offshore naval bombardments.
                            "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                            • #15
                              Well,... we are talking about a Dec 7th invasion attempt, not June 42.
                              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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