Discussion:
The importance of the Battle of Midway
(too old to reply)
Blackadder XVI
2008-03-09 21:12:34 UTC
Permalink
I'm currently reading Parshall and Tully's epic, "Shattered Sword: The
untold story of the Battle of Midway" - which explodes several myths
regarding the battle, namely, that the IJN carrier task force was ready to
launch a massive airstrike.

However, the conclusion imho seems a tad woolly though - jabbing at too many
directions at once.

The authors seem however to downplay the significance of the Battle of
Midway. Sinking 4 of IJN carriers, together with their expert ship crew
(yes, most of the aircrew survived but not so for the ship crew and
officers.)

But it did seem a rather close-run thing - Spruance's constant attacks,
whilst sent in almost piece meal - did seem to throw the IJN off-balance and
allowed the divebomer teams from the Yorktown and Enterprise to deal the
decisive blow. Would another USN admiral have done the same thing I wonder?

But if the IJN had succeeded to defeat the USN - the significance can't be
downplayed.

[Of course, the countdown to the Nuke strike at Hiroshima would not have
been altered very much. But if the IJN had sunk the USN carriers - that
would have left the US with only one fleet carrier, the Saratoga and the
small Ranger and Wasp. And yes by late 1943, the Essex class fleet would
have arrived to crush the IJN who were beset with a set of insurmountable
logistic and technical problems.]

A clear victory at Midway would allow the IJN to roam the Pacific and Indian
Ocean almost at will in 1942 -mid 1943 causing more destruction to Allied
civilians and property. Who knows what sort of incalculable damage they
could have done?
David Thornley
2008-03-10 01:14:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Blackadder XVI
But it did seem a rather close-run thing - Spruance's constant attacks,
whilst sent in almost piece meal - did seem to throw the IJN off-balance and
allowed the divebomer teams from the Yorktown and Enterprise to deal the
decisive blow. Would another USN admiral have done the same thing I wonder?
Another US admiral might have done better. Spruance's carriers
had a lot less effect than they could have. Of course, another
admiral might have screwed up big-time.
Post by Blackadder XVI
But if the IJN had succeeded to defeat the USN - the significance can't be
downplayed.
It would have been significant. It would not have changed the result
of the war. I don't think it would have delayed it by as much as a
year.
Post by Blackadder XVI
[Of course, the countdown to the Nuke strike at Hiroshima would not have
been altered very much. But if the IJN had sunk the USN carriers - that
would have left the US with only one fleet carrier, the Saratoga and the
small Ranger and Wasp. And yes by late 1943, the Essex class fleet would
have arrived to crush the IJN who were beset with a set of insurmountable
logistic and technical problems.]
Right, except that Wasp was a usable fleet carrier.

The Central Pacific offensive would have gotten off more or less on
schedule, probably with a few months' delay. The Southwest Pacific
offensive would have been in real trouble, and about the only thing
the Allies could have done was defense.

The result would be that the Japanese naval and especially Japanese
air forces would have been considerably stronger than historical
for the Central Pacific offensive. This probably would have caused
a lot of delay in capturing the Philippines, and possibly the
Marianas.
Post by Blackadder XVI
A clear victory at Midway would allow the IJN to roam the Pacific and Indian
Ocean almost at will in 1942 -mid 1943 causing more destruction to Allied
civilians and property. Who knows what sort of incalculable damage they
could have done?
Probably not a whole lot, to be honest.

The perimeter was already greatly extended from Japan, and the
Japanese would have to reach outside that perimeter to harm the
Allies. They could not have come anywhere near conquering
Australia or New Zealand, although presumably they could have
put fairly large military forces into northwest Australia.
They could not successfully attack Hawaii. They could not
take India. Possibly, if the Navy talked the Army into it,
they could have taken Ceylon, and Port Moresby would have
been in danger.

Heck, they likely wouldn't have taken Midway. Midway was very
strongly defended.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
Louis C
2008-03-10 19:20:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Thornley
Another US admiral might have done better. Spruance's carriers
had a lot less effect than they could have.
My understanding - without, I hasten to add, having read Shattered
Sword - is that a lot of the problems with US carriers were doctrinal
issues like the fact that they operated independently, so absent a
trait of genius it's unlikely that any single admiral would have
solved these problems at Midway.

Similarly, the various components of the air strikes being separated
en route doesn't strike me as bad admiralship as opposed to
technological constraints and lack of overall experienve in the
handling of carrier air strikes. The USN was doing no better in the SW
Pacific battles later on.


LC
Dave Anderer
2008-03-10 20:42:30 UTC
Permalink
In article
Post by Louis C
My understanding - without, I hasten to add, having read Shattered
Sword - is that a lot of the problems with US carriers were doctrinal
issues..
That is indeed the point made in the book. Not only was the US far
behind the IJN in assembling and coordinating multiple-carrier strikes,
the US ability to even coordinate a package from a single carrier
varied, from decent (Yorktown) to abysmal (Hornet).

If I was the admiral, I'd first be thankful for how things turned out,
and then deeply depressed that the air groups performed so far below
their theoretical (and expected? I don't know) capabilities.
Rich Rostrom
2008-03-10 22:05:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis C
Similarly, the various components of the air strikes being separated
en route doesn't strike me as bad admiralship as opposed to
technological constraints and lack of overall experienve in the
handling of carrier air strikes.
Midway was only the second time the USN actually
launched carrier air attacks against ships at sea.

Coral Sea was the first, and only YORKTOWN was
present there.

Given such limited experience, is it any
surprise that the attacks were poorly
coordinated?
--
| People say "There's a Stradivarius for sale for a |
| million," and you say "Oh, really? What's wrong |
| with it?" - Yitzhak Perlman |
Louis C
2008-03-11 15:28:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Given such limited experience, is it any
surprise that the attacks were poorly
coordinated?
I may not have made myself sufficiently clear, but I was *not*
surprised with the attacks being poorly coordinated, for having read
about other carrier battles after Midway.

What I question is the role of the admiral in this. As far as I can
tell, coordination problems were due to technology, inadequate
doctrine and training. Not something that a CO could fix easily.

The "limited experience" doesn't change anything. If the USN as an
institution had identified the problem, training would have
incorporated the correctives. As things were, the USN - as an
institution - didn't realize that the problem would be so bad. Maybe
this counts as institutional failure, maybe not (did other navies do
better?) but at any rate it doesn't look to me like the kind of things
a commanding admiral could change.


LC
Jerry
2008-03-12 15:07:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis C
The "limited experience" doesn't change anything. If the USN as an
institution had identified the problem, training would have
incorporated the correctives. As things were, the USN - as an
institution - didn't realize that the problem would be so bad. Maybe
this counts as institutional failure, maybe not (did other navies do
better?) but at any rate it doesn't look to me like the kind of things
a commanding admiral could change.
I don't know that I agree with this line of thinking. Launching a max
effort at the time they did toward a target location that was poorly
known at best and using aircraft with entirely different
flying/cruising characteristics, I can't figure out how it could have
come out better coordinated. Maybe if they had delayed the launch to
further close the target...but then that would have allowed the
Japanese to get off an anti-ship strike.

This was a case of "he who strikes first, strikes best".

Cheers,
Jerry

--
David Thornley
2008-03-13 01:52:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jerry
I don't know that I agree with this line of thinking. Launching a max
effort at the time they did toward a target location that was poorly
known at best and using aircraft with entirely different
flying/cruising characteristics, I can't figure out how it could have
come out better coordinated. Maybe if they had delayed the launch to
further close the target...but then that would have allowed the
Japanese to get off an anti-ship strike.
Except that Fletcher, with Yorktown, launched a strike later that
went straight to the Japanese carriers and arrived at the exact
same time as the Enterprise dive bombers. Of course, this was
a half-strike. I don't know if an all-out attack like Spruance's
could have been done in that time frame.

IIRC, Parshall and Tully also claim that sending the strike against
Hiryu with insufficient fighter escort was dumb. The Japanese were
way short of attack aircraft by then, and Hiryu had had the opportunity
to pick up lots of fighters.

--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
Branek
2008-03-11 15:24:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Thornley
Heck, they likely wouldn't have taken Midway. Midway was very
strongly defended.
Assuming the Japanese sank all the US carriers present at Midway, wouldn't
it have been relatively easy to eliminate Midway's air forces and acheive
air
superiority? I'd imagine this would clear the way for the battleships to
shell Midway's
defenses into submission.
Post by David Thornley
--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
Dave Anderer
2008-03-11 17:27:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Branek
Assuming the Japanese sank all the US carriers present at Midway, wouldn't
it have been relatively easy to eliminate Midway's air forces and acheive
air
superiority? I'd imagine this would clear the way for the battleships to
shell Midway's
defenses into submission.
First, the Japanese carriers were a strike force, not an invasion force.
They had no capability to hang around for an extended period.

Second, the Japanese had no real experience for staging an opposed
landing against a well-entrenched foe and no doctrine for naval fire
support. (Even with a plan, fire support proved less useful than
expected later in the war.)

Third, the landings were bring carried out by two different groups - the
Naval Infantry on one island, the Army on the the other. No way that
could be a good thing.

Fourth, at best the Japanese had a 1-to-1 ratio with the defenders.

Fifth, the Marines were quite ready to oppose the landing.

I don't see how the invasion could have succeeded.
Cubdriver
2008-03-12 21:45:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave Anderer
Second, the Japanese had no real experience for staging an opposed
landing against a well-entrenched foe and no doctrine for naval fire
support
Yes, in the Malaya landing, they basically put the troops in lifeboats
and had the sailors row them ashore, or anyhow close enough to the
beach so they could jump out and mostly wade ashore. They were lucky
indeed that the British defenders were elsewhere (and had no doctrine
either!).


Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942
new from HarperCollins www.FlyingTigersBook.com
Joe Osman
2008-03-14 15:15:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cubdriver
Post by Dave Anderer
Second, the Japanese had no real experience for staging an opposed
landing against a well-entrenched foe and no doctrine for naval fire
support
Yes, in the Malaya landing, they basically put the troops in lifeboats
and had the sailors row them ashore, or anyhow close enough to the
beach so they could jump out and mostly wade ashore. They were lucky
indeed that the British defenders were elsewhere (and had no doctrine
either!).
Blue skies! -- Dan Ford
Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942
new from HarperCollinswww.FlyingTigersBook.com
Dan, the British defenders were elsewhere but the Japanese landing was
opposed by a Dogra regiment of the Indian Army. I'm surprised that you
don't know this as you sell Colonel Tsuji's book on your website and
he relates in his book how tough the landing near Kota Baru was. The
RAF sank one of the Japanese transports as well.
The opposition was hit and miss for the landings in Thailand. Pattani
and Prachuap Khiri Khan were vigorously opposed but several others
were opposed by local police forces only.

The Japanese Invasion of Pattani

http://www.geocities.com/thailandwwii/pattani.html

The Japanese Invasion of Prachuap Khiri Khan

http://www.geocities.com/thailandwwii/prachuap.html

The poorest response was from the Australians on Rabaul, the Portugese
and Australians on Timor and the Dutch native and Australian troops at
Ambon. Very few Japanese were killed in those landings.

Joe
Cubdriver
2008-03-15 01:09:50 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 14 Mar 2008 11:15:13 -0400, Joe Osman
Post by Joe Osman
Pattani
and Prachuap Khiri Khan were vigorously opposed but several others
were opposed by local police forces only.
Well, "vigorous" perhaps by the standards of 1941. Nothing like Tarawa
though.

And the Japanese did basically row their boats ashore. Try that at
Omaha Beach!


Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942
new from HarperCollins www.FlyingTigersBook.com
r***@aol.com
2008-03-16 21:06:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cubdriver
Post by Dave Anderer
Second, the Japanese had no real experience for staging an opposed
landing against a well-entrenched foe and no doctrine for naval fire
support
Yes, in the Malaya landing, they basically put the troops in lifeboats
and had the sailors row them ashore, or anyhow close enough to the
beach so they could jump out and mostly wade ashore. They were lucky
indeed that the British defenders were elsewhere (and had no doctrine
either!).
Refer to Wake Island - 1st attempt (Dec11) there were only 450 men
from Special Naval
Landing force as assault element. On the island were about 400 men
from 1st Marine
Defense Battalion (actually about 1/2 of the battalion - had more
weapons than men to
use them) There were another 60 men (12 pilots, 49 EM (before
casualties) VMF211, 70 more
from Naval detachment and 6 more from Army (to refuel planes on way to
Philipines)
Add to that 1200 civilian contractors. US forces actually outnumbered
Japanese. 1st
attempt was beaten off with heavy losses (2 DD sunk with all hands, 3
CL, 2 DD, 1 AK
damaged by gunfire/bombs/strafing) Japanese commander was actually
prepared to run
destoyers aground and use crews to supplement assualt foreces

On 2nd attempt - there were some 1500 men in assualt force - There
were only about 200
marines available for beach defense and Japanese able to ground 2
patrol boats (old destroyer
used as transports), before Marines could react. Even then inflicted
heavy losses - on one
island Wilkes - 70 Marines supplemented by civilians wiped out a whole
Japanese company
of 100 men losing only 11 men (9 marine, 2 civilians)> Simply too
much ground and too many
Japanese to handle.
Dave Wilma
2008-03-13 01:01:23 UTC
Permalink
What were the USN BB assets in the Pacific by June '42? Yes, the old
Pacific Fleet was still out of action, but I know some units were
redeployed from the Atlantic. How many? What was the anticipated use?
Would these have figured in a protracted defense of Midway?

Dave Wilma
Seattle
David Thornley
2008-03-13 01:57:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave Wilma
What were the USN BB assets in the Pacific by June '42?
Six battleships, operating out of (IIRC) San Diego.

Yes, the old
Post by Dave Wilma
Pacific Fleet was still out of action, but I know some units were
redeployed from the Atlantic.
Three were. One battleship that was in the Pacific was in dockyard
and missed the Pearl Harbor attack. Three Pearl Harbor victims
were not in fact badly damaged, and were in operation again well
before Midway.

That's seven standard-type battleships available, and six operating.
I don't know where number seven was, offhand.
Post by Dave Wilma
How many? What was the anticipated use?
I have this suspicion that the use might have been to keep Admiral
Pye out of Nimitz' hair diplomatically. Nimitz refused to deploy
them without adequate air support, and presumably he didn't think
one escort carrier (Long Island) was adequate air support.
In addition, it was easier to keep the battlewagons fueled on
the West Coast.
Post by Dave Wilma
Would these have figured in a protracted defense of Midway?
There would have been no such thing as a protracted defense of
Midway. The Japanese were incapable of a protracted attack.
Either the Japanese would win, or they'd lose, and the issue
would be resolved long before the battleships could show up.

--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
Bill Shatzer
2008-03-13 04:57:14 UTC
Permalink
Dave Anderer wrote:

-snip-
Post by Dave Anderer
Fourth, at best the Japanese had a 1-to-1 ratio with the defenders.
That would be inaccurate as best I can determine.

The Japanese invasion forces numbered about 5,000. While some were
sevice and construction troops, the actual "fighters" numbered about
3,500 troops - 1,500 in the 5th Special Naval Landing Force and some
2,000 in the Army Ichiki Detachment.

Marine ground strength on Midway totalled about 1,800 - the 6th Marine
Defense Battalion reinforced by an anti-aircraft company and two
companies from the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.

There were some addition US forces on the island - mostly ground crews
for the aircraft and support and administrative personnel - but their
fighting value would have been modest and certainly not appreciably
better than the additional 1,500 construction and service troops in the
Japanese invasion force.

Near as I can figure, the Japanese outnumbered the defenders by
something like 2:1 in actual combat troops and closer to 2.5:1 in total
troop strength.

Coupled with naval gunfire support and (presumably) complete air
superiority, that should have been sufficient to successfully invade and
capture the island - albeit at some cost.
Post by Dave Anderer
I don't see how the invasion could have succeeded.
The Japanese were notorious for snatching defeat from the jaws of
victory but assuming the US carriers were sunk and the remainder of the
Pacific Fleet chased back to Hawaii, I'd think the invasion would be
quite likely to succeed, absent a Japanese blunder.

Whether the Japanese could hold the island would be a completely
different question. I doubt they could have done so for more than a few
months - for many reasons.


Cheers,
SolomonW
2008-03-13 15:17:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill Shatzer
Whether the Japanese could hold the island would be a completely
different question. I doubt they could have done so for more than a few
months - for many reasons.
If the American aircraft carriers are sunk, the Island lost that its is
hard to imagine that the Americans could mount a successful assault on
the Island in a few months.
Dave Anderer
2008-03-13 20:26:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill Shatzer
The Japanese invasion forces numbered about 5,000. While some were
sevice and construction troops, the actual "fighters" numbered about
3,500 troops - 1,500 in the 5th Special Naval Landing Force and some
2,000 in the Army Ichiki Detachment.
I'll admit to some confusion here. The sources I've seen agree on the
number for the 5th SNLF, but vary from 1000 to 2000 for the Ichiki
Detachment. I don't know what is correct. (1000 is about right for the
Detachment at Tenaru, but is it also for Midway?) In any case, I used
the smaller number without checking more closely.
Post by Bill Shatzer
Marine ground strength on Midway totalled about 1,800 - the 6th Marine
Defense Battalion reinforced by an anti-aircraft company and two
companies from the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.
The number I've seen here is around 2,500 Marines (400 of them in the
MAG).

In any case, I'd call this 'rough parity' - not what you'd want to
launch a firmly-opposed invasion.
Post by Bill Shatzer
Coupled with naval gunfire support and (presumably) complete air
superiority, that should have been sufficient to successfully invade and
capture the island - albeit at some cost.
I'm not aware that the Japanese had any real doctrine for NGFS at this
point. The air superiority was limited, both in number (the carriers
were under-strength to start with, and were taking losses) and staying
power. There were sufficient US subs available that, had they simply
concentrated at the atoll, something useful might have occurred.

The Japanese were also landing over an open reef, against significant,
well-entrenched firepower. It seems to me to have been more like a mix
of Tenaru and Tarawa.
Post by Bill Shatzer
The Japanese were notorious for snatching defeat from the jaws of
victory
Sure, sometimes everyone gets lucky. Then again think of the first
attempt at Wake.
Post by Bill Shatzer
Whether the Japanese could hold the island would be a completely
different question. I doubt they could have done so for more than a few
months - for many reasons.
Strongly agreed, if the US chose to take it back. It also could have
wound up like Wake or Kiska.
Bill Shatzer
2008-03-14 04:57:22 UTC
Permalink
-snip-
Post by Dave Anderer
Post by Bill Shatzer
Coupled with naval gunfire support and (presumably) complete air
superiority, that should have been sufficient to successfully invade and
capture the island - albeit at some cost.
I'm not aware that the Japanese had any real doctrine for NGFS at this
point.
You're correct on that - or at least not anything approaching the
directed naval gun fire that the US Navy developed in the second half of
the war.

Still, IIRC, the Japanese plan called for sending in the heavy cruiser
division (Kumano et al) ahead of the invasion force to pound the hell
out of Midway. Sand and Eastern Islands are not all that large and
directed naval gun fire is really not required. Just hitting the
islands would be likely to hit something. While an hour or so's worth of
bombardment by 8" guns is gonna mostly stir up a lot of sand, it's also
almost certain to mess things up considerably, bust up a lot of
communications wire, take out some emplacements, and inflict some
significant casualties.

Additional bombardment by the escorts to the landing forces (a light
cruiser and eight or ten destroyers) would only have added to the
general mayhem.
Post by Dave Anderer
The air superiority was limited, both in number (the carriers
were under-strength to start with, and were taking losses) and staying
power.
Well, I was thinking more along the lines that Japanese operations would
be unhindered by US aerial opposition - not so much that the Japanese
would be applying air power against the island's defenses as that the US
would be unable to apply any air power against the Japanese or their
supporting naval forces.

Although, G4Ms staging out of Wake Island would have had the range to
reach Midway - 'though I'm don't think the Japanese had that in their
contingency plans.
Post by Dave Anderer
There were sufficient US subs available that, had they simply
concentrated at the atoll, something useful might have occurred.
I'd considered that - but at that stage of the war, US submarine
torpedoes were rather notoriously unreliable - and US submarine
commanders were notoriously unaggressive. The US subs might have raised
some havoc but there are reasons for thinking that they might have not
accomplished much at all. Nautilus, after all, was unable to get a hit
at essentially point blank range on Kaga which was then almost dead in
the water.
Post by Dave Anderer
The Japanese were also landing over an open reef, against significant,
well-entrenched firepower. It seems to me to have been more like a mix
of Tenaru and Tarawa.
Clearly a Japanese landing would have incurred some significant cost for
the invaders. I'm just not sure the cost would have been sufficient to
repel the landings. After all, the Tarawa invasion was at some
considerable cost to the US Marines but the landings were ultimately
successful and the island taken, none the less.

Cheers,
Dave Anderer
2008-03-14 15:14:07 UTC
Permalink
In article <tY-dnZXepv-***@comcast.com>,
Bill Shatzer <***@comcast.net> wrote:

Good points snipped.
Post by Bill Shatzer
Clearly a Japanese landing would have incurred some significant cost for
the invaders. I'm just not sure the cost would have been sufficient to
repel the landings.
I suspect it would have been a close-run thing, no matter what the
outcome. I lean towards a successful US defense, but like the naval
battle this too would likely turn on series of unanticipated and
seemingly minor events, given neither side had an overwhelming
superiority.
Tiger
2008-03-18 04:36:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave Anderer
Good points snipped.
Post by Bill Shatzer
Clearly a Japanese landing would have incurred some significant cost for
the invaders. I'm just not sure the cost would have been sufficient to
repel the landings.
I suspect it would have been a close-run thing, no matter what the
outcome. I lean towards a successful US defense, but like the naval
battle this too would likely turn on series of unanticipated and
seemingly minor events, given neither side had an overwhelming
superiority.
If the US Task force is beaten off , Midway falls. All the rifles & Mg's
in the world is not going to stop the Japanese bombardment force from
plastering the place. Without resuply or fresh water, Midway falls as
quick as Wake did.
Timothy J. Lee
2008-03-14 18:19:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill Shatzer
Nautilus, after all, was unable to get a hit
at essentially point blank range on Kaga which was then almost dead in
the water.
Didn't Nautilus get a hit on (already burning and dead in the water)
Kaga, but it was a dud?

Also, didn't Nautilus make an earlier attack (no hits) that indirectly
helped VB-6 and VS-6 find the IJN fleet?
--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Timothy J. Lee
Unsolicited bulk or commercial email is not welcome.
No warranty of any kind is provided with this message.
Bill Shatzer
2008-03-15 01:03:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Timothy J. Lee
Post by Bill Shatzer
Nautilus, after all, was unable to get a hit
at essentially point blank range on Kaga which was then almost dead in
the water.
Didn't Nautilus get a hit on (already burning and dead in the water)
Kaga, but it was a dud?
Well, perhaps I should have said "no effective hit".

The Nautilus claimed and was credited with a torpedo hit at the time but
none of the post-war interviews of Japanese survivors disclosed any
record of a torpedo hit.

There is some speculation that at least one of Nautilus's torpedoes hit
but failed to explode. However, it seems equally likely that the
torpedoes missed altogether or that the torpedoes were on course but
missed by passing completely under the carrier. US torpedoes had a
problem with depth control as well as problems with the exploders at
that stage of the war.

It's unlikely that the question will ever be satisfactorily resolved at
this late date. Still, the Nautilus fired three torpedoes at a
dead-in-the-water Kaga and inflicted zero additional damage on the carrier.
Post by Timothy J. Lee
Also, didn't Nautilus make an earlier attack (no hits) that indirectly
helped VB-6 and VS-6 find the IJN fleet?
The earlier attack by Nautilus with similar nil results only adds
additional evidence to my supposition that US submarines might not have
accomplished all that much. And Brockman was apparently one of the more
aggressive of the early war submarine skippers.

Cheers,
Justin
2008-03-16 20:39:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Timothy J. Lee
Didn't Nautilus get a hit on (already burning and dead in the water)
Kaga, but it was a dud?
Yes, according to Parshall and Tully, some Japanese sailors in the
water saw the torpedo hit and break in two, and some of them used its
air flask as a flotation device.
Post by Timothy J. Lee
Also, didn't Nautilus make an earlier attack (no hits) that indirectly
helped VB-6 and VS-6 find the IJN fleet?
Yes, the big old Nautilus was setting up for a shot on a BB IIRC, but
was spotted from the air. One destroyer stayed around and
depth-charged her for a while. The Enterprise SBDs spotted the
destoyer running high speed back to rejoin the main group, and
followed her course to the carriers.

--Justin
Scott M. Kozel
2008-03-16 21:50:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Justin
Post by Timothy J. Lee
Didn't Nautilus get a hit on (already burning and dead in the water)
Kaga, but it was a dud?
Yes, according to Parshall and Tully, some Japanese sailors in the
water saw the torpedo hit and break in two, and some of them used its
air flask as a flotation device.
Reported on in Walter Lord's _Incredible Victory_, as well.
That account was first reported decades ago.
--
Scott M. Kozel Highway and Transportation History Websites
Virginia/Maryland/Washington, D.C. http://www.roadstothefuture.com
Capital Beltway Projects http://www.capital-beltway.com
Philadelphia and Delaware Valley http://www.pennways.com
Joe Osman
2008-03-14 15:15:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill Shatzer
-snip-
Post by Dave Anderer
Fourth, at best the Japanese had a 1-to-1 ratio with the defenders.
That would be inaccurate as best I can determine.
The Japanese invasion forces numbered about 5,000. While some were
sevice and construction troops, the actual "fighters" numbered about
3,500 troops - 1,500 in the 5th Special Naval Landing Force and some
2,000 in the Army Ichiki Detachment.
Marine ground strength on Midway totalled about 1,800 - the 6th Marine
Defense Battalion reinforced by an anti-aircraft company and two
companies from the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.
There were some addition US forces on the island - mostly ground crews
for the aircraft and support and administrative personnel - but their
fighting value would have been modest and certainly not appreciably
better than the additional 1,500 construction and service troops in the
Japanese invasion force.
Near as I can figure, the Japanese outnumbered the defenders by
something like 2:1 in actual combat troops and closer to 2.5:1 in total
troop strength.
Coupled with naval gunfire support and (presumably) complete air
superiority, that should have been sufficient to successfully invade and
capture the island - albeit at some cost.
Post by Dave Anderer
I don't see how the invasion could have succeeded.
The Japanese were notorious for snatching defeat from the jaws of
victory but assuming the US carriers were sunk and the remainder of the
Pacific Fleet chased back to Hawaii, I'd think the invasion would be
quite likely to succeed, absent a Japanese blunder.
Whether the Japanese could hold the island would be a completely
different question. I doubt they could have done so for more than a few
months - for many reasons.
Cheers,
The weak point of the Japanese plan was that they did not have an
Amtrac equivalent. The Japanese were most worried about getting their
landing craft over a reef. Captain Toyama of the IJN said: "We were
going to approach the south side (of Midway), sending out landing
boats as far as the reef. We had many different kinds of landing boats
but did not think that many would be able to pass over the reefs. If
they got stuck the personnel were supposed to transfer to rubber
landing boats. We had plenty of equipment for a three months'
occupation without help, but were not sure of our boats."

http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/Midway/USMC-M-Midway-3.html

Joe
Tiger
2008-03-18 05:33:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave Anderer
Post by Branek
Assuming the Japanese sank all the US carriers present at Midway, wouldn't
it have been relatively easy to eliminate Midway's air forces and acheive
air
superiority? I'd imagine this would clear the way for the battleships to
shell Midway's
defenses into submission.
First, the Japanese carriers were a strike force, not an invasion force.
They had no capability to hang around for an extended period.
Second, the Japanese had no real experience for staging an opposed
landing against a well-entrenched foe and no doctrine for naval fire
support. (Even with a plan, fire support proved less useful than
expected later in the war.)
Third, the landings were bring carried out by two different groups - the
Naval Infantry on one island, the Army on the the other. No way that
could be a good thing.
Fourth, at best the Japanese had a 1-to-1 ratio with the defenders.
Fifth, the Marines were quite ready to oppose the landing.
I don't see how the invasion could have succeeded.
If Wake could fall. So could Midway. It would have not been that hard
really if the USN is beaten back.
David Thornley
2008-03-19 02:00:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiger
If Wake could fall. So could Midway. It would have not been that hard
really if the USN is beaten back.
How about this: if Wake could withstand one attack, so could Midway?
Same logic, after all.

I rather think that quite a few Marines, invading Japanese-held
islands with no interference from the Japanese navy, would have
disagreed with your "would not have been that hard". They usually
showed up better supported than the Japanese would have been
at Midway, and had hard fights.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
Tiger
2008-03-19 15:14:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Thornley
Post by Tiger
If Wake could fall. So could Midway. It would have not been that hard
really if the USN is beaten back.
How about this: if Wake could withstand one attack, so could Midway?
Same logic, after all.
I rather think that quite a few Marines, invading Japanese-held
islands with no interference from the Japanese navy, would have
disagreed with your "would not have been that hard". They usually
showed up better supported than the Japanese would have been
at Midway, and had hard fights.
--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
Bravery & esprit de corps Does not save Midway. Naval gunfire & aircraft
plaster the place. The defenders who survive that, have limited
supplies, no high ground, and no fresh water. Lack of proper amphibious
craft be damned, The Japanese hold most of the cards if tf 16 & tf 17
are taken out.
WaltBJ
2008-03-19 18:56:10 UTC
Permalink
If the Japanese had taken Midway they would have become a practice
target for B17s out of Oahu. I have been on Midway and there is no
place to hide. It would also have a been a nice radar target for
midnight bombing using radar which came into service shortly after the
Midway battle. Operating search aircraft out of there would have
swiftly become impossible and life on that pair of sand bars
intolerable.
Walt BJ
Tiger
2008-03-20 22:49:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by WaltBJ
If the Japanese had taken Midway they would have become a practice
target for B17s out of Oahu. I have been on Midway and there is no
place to hide. It would also have a been a nice radar target for
midnight bombing using radar which came into service shortly after the
Midway battle. Operating search aircraft out of there would have
swiftly become impossible and life on that pair of sand bars
intolerable.
Walt BJ
I think the Japanese had no more of a long term plan to occupy Midway
than they did Kiska & Attu. In the long term those troops as you said
became target pratice for the forces in Alaska. I think the invasion
force was kind of tacked on to a already complex Yamamato plan.
Jim Carew
2008-03-21 04:24:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiger
Post by WaltBJ
If the Japanese had taken Midway they would have become a practice
target for B17s out of Oahu. I have been on Midway and there is no
place to hide. It would also have a been a nice radar target for
midnight bombing using radar which came into service shortly after the
Midway battle. Operating search aircraft out of there would have
swiftly become impossible and life on that pair of sand bars
intolerable.
Walt BJ
I think the Japanese had no more of a long term plan to occupy Midway
than they did Kiska & Attu. In the long term those troops as you said
became target pratice for the forces in Alaska. I think the invasion
force was kind of tacked on to a already complex Yamamato plan.
After 1 March 1942, the Japanese military leadership decided
their war plans had been too conservative and pessimistic. They
had expected to suffer a loss of one-fourth of all their forces
in their offensives to date. In fact, the losses had been
negligible. There offensives had been successful beyond there
wildest expectations. Accordingly, Tojo and Yamamoto worked
out a compromise agreement to extend the strategic objectives
of the war plans to encompass an even larger area for the
Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (Manchester 293-294).

Yamamoto's task was to advance Japan's control of the Pacific
onwards to Alaska and Midway..... Yamamoto was to advance
from the Aleutian Islands and move down the coast of Alaska
through Dutch Harbor and Juneau towards Washington, capture
Hawaii, and use Alaska and Hawaii as bases for further raids
upon the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to California
(Manchester 293-294; Garfield, 4-8,44, Layton, 383) Japanese
air bases in Alaska would be within three hours bombing
distance of the Boeing aircraft plant and Bremerton Naval
Shipyard in the Seattle, Washington region (Garfield, 16) At
the time 60-70% of the total US Military aircraft production
was here on the West Coast within 10-100 miles of the
coastline.

BTW Japanese submarine-launched scouting type aircraft
were sent over Seattle(Craven, 277-286)

References:

Manchester William: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur
1880-1964. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Co.; 1978.
pages 293-294

Garfield Brian: The Thousand-Mile War: World War II In
Alaska and the Aleutians, 1st edition. New York;
Ballantine; 1969. pages 4-8,16 & 44

Layton Edwen: And I was There, Pearl Harbor and Midway-
Breaking the Secrets, page 383

Craven Frank Wesley & Cate James Lea: The Army Air Forces
in World War II, Vol. 1, pages 277-286

Jim
Dave Wilma
2008-03-21 23:04:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Carew
BTW Japanese submarine-launched scouting type aircraft
were sent over Seattle(Craven, 277-286)
According to Bert Webber, Retaliation: Japanese Attacks and Allied
Countermeasures on the Pacific Coast in World War II (Corvallis:
Oregon State University Press, 1975), 18, 156, this did not happen.

The overflight story was the result of a a debriefing of a Japanese
naval officer in 1945. In 1974, the staff officer, by then a retired
Lieutenant General of the Japanese Air Self Defense Forces, attributed
the error to problems in interpretation. The surviving commander of
I-26, the only submarine operating along the Washington coast at the
time, reported that on that voyage, the aircraft hanger was filled
with food and supplies for a long voyage and he carried no airplane.

Dave Wilma
Seattle
Cubdriver
2008-03-23 20:56:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiger
I think the Japanese had no more of a long term plan to occupy Midway
than they did Kiska & Attu. In the long term those troops as you said
became target pratice for the forces in Alaska. I think the invasion
force was kind of tacked on to a already complex Yamamato plan.
The Japanese were shocked by the Doolittle Raid, and as a direct
result of it they set out to capture:

1) The westernmost Aluetian islands

2) Midway Island

3) All Chinese airfields within bombing range of the Homeland

That neither Attu, Kiska, nor Midway were actually suitable for
long-range bombers evidently did not occur to them; they simply drew a
perimeter and tried to capture everything inside it.

Ichi-go, the big offensive in China, was much more effective.
Unfortunately for the Japanese, the Americans had a super-bomber in
the form of the B-29, which was able to bomb the Homeland (to little
effect, it's true) from as far distant as Chengdu.

Source: the Japanese Monograph Series. (It's always possible that the
demobbed officers who were the source for this series were lying to
the Americans, but it's very unlikely.)


Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942
new from HarperCollins www.FlyingTigersBook.com

David Thornley
2008-03-20 02:58:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiger
Bravery & esprit de corps Does not save Midway.
Not alone.

Naval gunfire & aircraft
Post by Tiger
plaster the place.
At which point they go home. The Japanese did not have good fleet
logistics.

The defenders who survive that, have limited
Post by Tiger
supplies, no high ground, and no fresh water.
Sure about that? One thing they will have in plenty is weapons.

Lack of proper amphibious
Post by Tiger
craft be damned, The Japanese hold most of the cards if tf 16 & tf 17
are taken out.
For a little while.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
Tiger
2008-03-20 23:19:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Thornley
Post by Tiger
Bravery & esprit de corps Does not save Midway.
Not alone.
Naval gunfire & aircraft
Post by Tiger
plaster the place.
At which point they go home. The Japanese did not have good fleet
logistics.
The defenders who survive that, have limited
Post by Tiger
supplies, no high ground, and no fresh water.
Sure about that? One thing they will have in plenty is weapons.
Sniped for brevity

In other words This becomes a replay of Wake Island. The results sadly
the same.
David Thornley
2008-03-21 11:30:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiger
In other words This becomes a replay of Wake Island. The results sadly
the same.
Which assault? There were two results at Wake.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
David Thornley
2008-03-12 02:53:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Branek
Post by David Thornley
Heck, they likely wouldn't have taken Midway. Midway was very
strongly defended.
Assuming the Japanese sank all the US carriers present at Midway, wouldn't
it have been relatively easy to eliminate Midway's air forces and acheive
air
superiority?
Certainly. Then what?

I'd imagine this would clear the way for the battleships to
Post by Branek
shell Midway's
defenses into submission.
Limited linger time and limited ammo, and I don't know if the
battleships were armed with enough high explosive ammo. In
any case, battleships are not particularly accurate in fire support,
and the flat nature of the Midway islands would accentuate that.

The Midway garrison had been told to ask for everything it needed
to defend Midway, and had done so. There was good reason to think
that the defenses would have survived what the Japanese could
throw at them for limited periods.

Morison was of the opinion that the Japanese would have failed.
He considered the Midway defenses to be comparable to the Tarawa
defenses against the USN assault in 1943, and the Japanese had
a lot less to throw at Midway than the USN had against Tarawa.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
Joe Osman
2008-03-14 15:15:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Thornley
Post by Branek
Post by David Thornley
Heck, they likely wouldn't have taken Midway. Midway was very
strongly defended.
Assuming the Japanese sank all the US carriers present at Midway, wouldn't
it have been relatively easy to eliminate Midway's air forces and acheive
air
superiority?
Certainly. Then what?
I'd imagine this would clear the way for the battleships to>shell Midway's
Post by Branek
defenses into submission.
Limited linger time and limited ammo, and I don't know if the
battleships were armed with enough high explosive ammo. In
any case, battleships are not particularly accurate in fire support,
and the flat nature of the Midway islands would accentuate that.
The Midway garrison had been told to ask for everything it needed
to defend Midway, and had done so. There was good reason to think
that the defenses would have survived what the Japanese could
throw at them for limited periods.
Morison was of the opinion that the Japanese would have failed.
He considered the Midway defenses to be comparable to the Tarawa
defenses against the USN assault in 1943, and the Japanese had
a lot less to throw at Midway than the USN had against Tarawa.
--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
I don't think that Midway was as fortified as Tarawa was. It had a lot
of artillery, but not as many reinforced concrete emplacements as
Tarawa.

Joe
Tiger
2008-03-18 05:00:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Branek
Post by David Thornley
Heck, they likely wouldn't have taken Midway. Midway was very
strongly defended.
Assuming the Japanese sank all the US carriers present at Midway, wouldn't
it have been relatively easy to eliminate Midway's air forces and acheive
air
superiority? I'd imagine this would clear the way for the battleships to
shell Midway's
defenses into submission.
Post by David Thornley
--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
The first strike on Midway had already wiped out the Marine Fighter Sq.
While she still had PBY's and some Army bombers, Midway had little left
to form any air Superiority after day one....
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