Discussion:
Effect of the Torpedo Plan attacks on the IJN Fleet at the Battle of Midway
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Blackadder XVI
2008-03-09 21:12:42 UTC
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In Shattered Sword, the authors argue that the attack of the USN torpedo
planes did not prevent the IJN CAP from intercepting the USN divebombers
from the Yorktown and Enterprise- but their attack did distract the IJN and
cause their fighters to come down. If the torpedo planes didn't attack
before the divebombers - would the IJN CAP have been in position to molest
the USN carrier divebombing team?
Don Phillipson
2008-03-09 23:07:34 UTC
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Post by Blackadder XVI
In Shattered Sword, the authors argue that the attack of the USN torpedo
planes did not prevent the IJN CAP from intercepting the USN divebombers
from the Yorktown and Enterprise- but their attack did distract the IJN and
cause their fighters to come down. If the torpedo planes didn't attack
before the divebombers - would the IJN CAP have been in position to molest
the USN carrier divebombing team?
This argument seems presented in a confusing way. The
tactical situation seems to be:
1 CAP formations orbit high so as to be able to dive to
attack. They altitude of actual combat is governed by
the attacking force so far as CAP fighters must dive to the
altitude of the attackers.
2. During combat at high altitude, the CAP retains the
height advantage over any force that may later appear at a
lower altitude.
3. Torpedo bombers attack at sea level (altitude 200 ft.
or less.) Dive bombers attack from at least 5,000 feet.

Thus a CAP drawn down to sea level by torpedo bombers
finds itself at a disadvantage if dive bombers then appear
5,000 ft. higher. It would take at least two minutes to climb
back up to 5,000 ft. and skilled dive-bombers could complete
their attack in that time.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
YMC
2008-03-10 04:21:13 UTC
Permalink
"Don Phillipson" <***@SPAMBLOCK.ncf.ca> wrote in message > Thus a CAP drawn
down to sea level by torpedo bombers
Post by Don Phillipson
finds itself at a disadvantage if dive bombers then appear
5,000 ft. higher. It would take at least two minutes to climb
back up to 5,000 ft. and skilled dive-bombers could complete
their attack in that time.
Pardon me. I didn't make it very clear. In Shattered Sword, the authors
argue that the IJN CAP had the time to climb back up to 5000 ft in time to
intercept the USN divebomber team - but didn't due to poor operational
doctrine, lack of a centralized fighter control, etc.. What do other
commentators who have read the book think of their argument?
Michael Emrys
2008-03-10 08:56:53 UTC
Permalink
In Shattered Sword, the authors argue that the IJN CAP had the time to climb
back up to 5000 ft in time to intercept the USN divebomber team - but didn't
due to poor operational doctrine, lack of a centralized fighter control, etc..
What do other commentators who have read the book think of their argument?
I think it's reasonable. If I am correct, at this stage of the war most of
the Japanese fighters still lacked radios, which would make direction and
movement to a threatened sector very difficult, even if the task force
identified such a sector early enough. Secondly, what the authors write (and
which I have no grounds to doubt) once a fight was in progress, the CAP not
immediately engaged would tend to leave their patrol areas to join it, thus
leaving those areas unguarded. While this system would perhaps not
inevitably fail to protect the fleet, it was leaving a lot to chance, and on
that day chance was not on the side of the Japanese.

Michael
Louis C
2008-03-10 19:25:16 UTC
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Post by Michael Emrys
Secondly, what the authors write (and
which I have no grounds to doubt) once a fight was in progress, the CAP not
immediately engaged would tend to leave their patrol areas to join it, thus
leaving those areas unguarded.
A lot of battles were lost because neighboring units failed to "march
to the sound of the guns" on their own initiative and join the fight,
preferring instead to remain in their alloted positions.

There is no really perfect answer, I guess. Had Japanese doctrine
allowed for a perfect cordon defense, some of the CAP would have
intercepted the torpedo bombers and some more would have intercepted
the dive-bombers but a lot of the fighters would have remained in
their sectors and not have fought at all (in case yet another strike
should appear). In such a case, maybe we would be blaming overly
conservative Japanese CAP doctrine for letting some of the dive-
bombers and torpedo bombers slip through, and maybe the Devastators
would have scored a hit or two and become the heroes of the day.


LC
Michael Emrys
2008-03-11 08:53:33 UTC
Permalink
in article
Post by Louis C
There is no really perfect answer, I guess.
True. A *better* answer of course is better fighter direction from the ship,
but that requires good radar and good radio comms, as well as the
methodology to use them effectively, neither of which the Japanese had in
that battle.

Michael
WaltBJ
2008-03-10 20:17:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Blackadder XVI
In Shattered Sword, the authors argue that the attack of the USN torpedo
planes did not prevent the IJN CAP from intercepting the USN divebombers
from the Yorktown and Enterprise- but their attack did distract the IJN and
cause their fighters to come down. If the torpedo planes didn't attack
before the divebombers - would the IJN CAP have been in position to molest
the USN carrier divebombing team?
SNIP:
I won't take time to look it up but I believe the SBDs came in at
something like 15,000 feet. 5,000 is awfully low for searching for a
group of ships whose actual location is very shaky, besides being too
close to the flak while positioning for the dive. One unit did come in
lower because one of the airplanes had oxygen problems, but that would
still be 10,000. Haven't read Shattered Sword - does it mention the
squadron leader who took his flight out of the battle entirely?.I
deliberately refrain from mentioning his name.
As for results - aircrews were lost and the IJN's flight training
program was very slow to replace them. But also lost were hundreds of
aviation technicians, and they, too, are hard to replace; ones worth
a damn, that is.
One effect not usually mentioned is the psychological shock - one
moment the IJN CV force had everything going tis way - the next moment
they were in the crapper. Genda's comment while he and Fujita were
looking at burning carriers is a classic - 'Shimatta' - we goofed.
Walt BJ
Bill Shatzer
2008-03-10 20:53:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by WaltBJ
Post by Blackadder XVI
In Shattered Sword, the authors argue that the attack of the USN torpedo
planes did not prevent the IJN CAP from intercepting the USN divebombers
from the Yorktown and Enterprise- but their attack did distract the IJN and
cause their fighters to come down. If the torpedo planes didn't attack
before the divebombers - would the IJN CAP have been in position to molest
the USN carrier divebombing team?
I won't take time to look it up but I believe the SBDs came in at
something like 15,000 feet. 5,000 is awfully low for searching for a
group of ships whose actual location is very shaky, besides being too
close to the flak while positioning for the dive.
Japanese reports have the broken cloud cover at about 3000 meters and
claim the clouds hid the approaching SBDs until they commenced their
dives. Which would place the dive bombers' approach at something over
10,000 feet at the lowest.

I can't find any US reports confirming the SBDs' approach altitute but,
as you note, something around 15,000 feet would make the most sense and
the Japanese reports clearly place them higher than 10,000 feet. 5,000
feet seems most unlikely.

Cheers,
David Thornley
2008-03-11 11:35:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by WaltBJ
One effect not usually mentioned is the psychological shock - one
moment the IJN CV force had everything going tis way - the next moment
they were in the crapper. Genda's comment while he and Fujita were
looking at burning carriers is a classic - 'Shimatta' - we goofed.
The psychological shock was not nearly as great as Fuchida and Genda
wrote. You probably should read "Shattered Sword"; to the best of
my knowledge it's the first good Western book to be based on modern
Japanese scholarship about the battle. Fuchida and Genda were less
than honest.

The Japanese did indeed goof, but it wasn't such a near-run thing
as Fuchida and Genda claim.



--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
YMC
2008-03-12 15:06:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by WaltBJ
I won't take time to look it up but I believe the SBDs came in at
something like 15,000 feet. 5,000 is awfully low for searching for a
group of ships whose actual location is very shaky, besides being too
close to the flak while positioning for the dive. One unit did come in
lower because one of the airplanes had oxygen problems, but that would
still be 10,000. Haven't read Shattered Sword - does it mention the
squadron leader who took his flight out of the battle entirely?.I
deliberately refrain from mentioning his name.
Are you referring to Lt Grey who was commanding a flight group of Wildcats?
He had positioned his group at high altitude and due to a combination of bad
radio communication and cloud cover - did not see the first two attacks go
in. And consequnetly did not support them as they were being mauled by the
IJN CAP.

As for the SBD issue - sorry for the misdirection, my mistake I did not mean
5000 ft.- the authors of SSword pointed out that the IJN CAP was drawn down
by the torpedo attack but still had enough time to climb back up to
intercept the (successful) USN dive bombing group. However, they did not -
due to a combination of 1. poor CAP fighter direction. and 2. poor radio
communication.
Tiger
2008-03-18 04:40:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by YMC
Post by WaltBJ
I won't take time to look it up but I believe the SBDs came in at
something like 15,000 feet. 5,000 is awfully low for searching for a
group of ships whose actual location is very shaky, besides being too
close to the flak while positioning for the dive. One unit did come in
lower because one of the airplanes had oxygen problems, but that would
still be 10,000. Haven't read Shattered Sword - does it mention the
squadron leader who took his flight out of the battle entirely?.I
deliberately refrain from mentioning his name.
Are you referring to Lt Grey who was commanding a flight group of Wildcats?
He had positioned his group at high altitude and due to a combination of bad
radio communication and cloud cover - did not see the first two attacks go
in. And consequnetly did not support them as they were being mauled by the
IJN CAP.
As for the SBD issue - sorry for the misdirection, my mistake I did not mean
5000 ft.- the authors of SSword pointed out that the IJN CAP was drawn down
by the torpedo attack but still had enough time to climb back up to
intercept the (successful) USN dive bombing group. However, they did not -
due to a combination of 1. poor CAP fighter direction. and 2. poor radio
communication.
This ASSUMES 1) they had the fuel & 2) the ammo to do such a thing.
After burning gas on CAP they then burn more chasing US panes at combat
power. Then after shooting up the Devastators, They would be low on ammo
to deal with the SBD's and F4f's comming in. So while they may have had
time in theory, in practice it is not quite as simple.
David Thornley
2008-03-20 11:53:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiger
This ASSUMES 1) they had the fuel & 2) the ammo to do such a thing.
IIRC, the Zero had a very limited amount of 20mm ammo, and the
rifle-caliber machine guns were not all that effective against
USN carrier aircraft.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
***@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-
a425couple
2008-03-26 19:58:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Thornley
Post by Tiger
This ASSUMES 1) they had the fuel & 2) the ammo to do such a thing.
IIRC, the Zero had a very limited amount of 20mm ammo, and the
rifle-caliber machine guns were not all that effective against
USN carrier aircraft.
All above on thread noted.
Just like to point out, I recall reading, some of CAP,
expended all of ammo on the Torpedo planes,
(some while they departing empty)
landed on AC., refuelled, rearmed, and took off
again.

No doubt however, the TBD attack was very
distracting (esp. combined with all else going on).
The 'red mist' focuses on visable prey.
Celebrating when it looks like you have cinched
a victory, -does not make for carefull attention
to other possible threats.
Tiger
2008-03-18 04:41:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Blackadder XVI
In Shattered Sword, the authors argue that the attack of the USN torpedo
planes did not prevent the IJN CAP from intercepting the USN divebombers
from the Yorktown and Enterprise- but their attack did distract the IJN
and cause their fighters to come down. If the torpedo planes didn't
attack before the divebombers - would the IJN CAP have been in position
to molest the USN carrier divebombing team?
A Fighter can not be in two places at once. Simple as that. The CAP was
drawn down to sea level at a critical moment, the rest is history...
Briarroot
2008-03-18 15:09:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiger
A Fighter can not be in two places at once. Simple as that. The CAP was
drawn down to sea level at a critical moment, the rest is history...
If the CAP is large enough, and is well controlled, then there is no
reason to send *all* of it down to sea level to deal with a couple of
squadrons of torpedo planes. Maintaining a reserve CAP at altitude
should be part of any naval air controller's Standard Operating
Procedure. It stands to reason that if there are enemy torpedo planes
approaching, there might very well be enemy dive bombers in the area as
well.
Rich Rostrom
2008-03-18 18:25:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Briarroot
It stands to reason that if there are enemy torpedo planes
approaching, there might very well be enemy dive bombers in the area as
well.
There might be, and then again there
might not be. During the Battle of
Midway:

Torpedo carrying PBYs attacked the
Japanese invasion force at 0130 on
June 4. No dive bombers were even in
the air.

The 6 TBFs of VT-8 detached at Midway,
and the four torpedo carrying B-26s
from Midway, attacked at 0705. The
next dive bomber attack was VMSB-241
at 0750, 35 minutes after the torpedo
attack was over.

VT-8 attacked at 0918, and its attack
was over by 0936; the dive bomber attacks
began at 1022, over 45 minutes later.

HIRYU's 10 "Kates" attacked YORKTOWN
at 0230; the Japanese dive bombers
had attacked at 1200, and never came
back.
--
| People say "There's a Stradivarius for sale for a |
| million," and you say "Oh, really? What's wrong |
| with it?" - Yitzhak Perlman |
Michael Emrys
2008-03-19 00:45:44 UTC
Permalink
HIRYU's 10 "Kates" attacked YORKTOWN at 0230...
Is that a typo, Rich? I don't think you meant to say that they attacked at
2:30 in the morning, did you?

Michael
Rich Rostrom
2008-03-19 01:43:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Emrys
HIRYU's 10 "Kates" attacked YORKTOWN at 0230...
Is that a typo, Rich?
Yes.

The "Kates" attacked at 1430.

However, the PBYs did attack at 0130.
--
| People say "There's a Stradivarius for sale for a |
| million," and you say "Oh, really? What's wrong |
| with it?" - Yitzhak Perlman |
Briarroot
2008-03-19 15:17:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Briarroot
It stands to reason that if there are enemy torpedo planes
approaching, there might very well be enemy dive bombers in the area as
well.
There might be, and then again there
might not be. During the Battle of
[snip timing of US attacks]
Sure, but retaining a reserve CAP at sufficient altitude is *always* a
wise precaution.
Tiger
2008-03-19 15:15:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Briarroot
Post by Tiger
A Fighter can not be in two places at once. Simple as that. The CAP
was drawn down to sea level at a critical moment, the rest is history...
If the CAP is large enough, and is well controlled, then there is no
reason to send *all* of it down to sea level to deal with a couple of
squadrons of torpedo planes. Maintaining a reserve CAP at altitude
should be part of any naval air controller's Standard Operating
Procedure. It stands to reason that if there are enemy torpedo planes
approaching, there might very well be enemy dive bombers in the area as
well.
This is still June 1942. There is not set rule book for carrier
fighting. All sides are still learning how to and not to use this
weapon. Thow in the fact there are 4 different CV's and air groups then
Air control gets to be a bit juggling act. There is no one control
point.As for the idea of maintaining a reserve cap? What good is a
reserve cap if your CV is sinking from 2 torpedoes???? You would be
saving them for nothing....
Briarroot
2008-03-20 15:19:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiger
This is still June 1942. There is not set rule book for carrier
fighting. All sides are still learning how to and not to use this
weapon.
Common sense does not require a doctrinal revolution. Maintaining a
reserve to counter unexpected enemy moves is an ancient military maxim.
a425couple
2008-03-26 19:59:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Briarroot
A Fighter can not be in two places at once. --- The CAP was
drawn down to sea level at a critical moment, the rest is history...
If the CAP is large enough, and is well controlled,
As other pointed out, this is June 1942.
I am quite sure that existing IJN Communications
equipment was not up to this. (much less theory and policy).
Post by Briarroot
then there is no reason to send *all* of it down to sea level
to deal with a couple of squadrons of torpedo planes.
Maintaining a reserve CAP at altitude
should be part of any naval air controller's S-O-P
It stands to reason ----
from other
Post by Briarroot
Sure, but retaining a reserve CAP at sufficient altitude
is *always* a wise precaution.
Again, they lacked the command, control, and communications.

But further (as to use of reserves):
This is why military leadership is both an art,
as well as science.
Many battles swing on the commander's decision of
when to commit his reserves.
If you judge too late, already lost at critical point.
If you decide to commit too early, then nothing
available when and where really needed.
WaltBJ
2008-04-02 04:24:55 UTC
Permalink
I haven't seem it mentioned here in this thread but there were two
squadron-sized TBD attacks separated in time and space and even a 4-
B26 Marauder torpedo attack to bedevil the CVs' CAP. Synchronized
attacks are the supposedly 'ideal' tactic but wildly disorganized
attacks can sometimes plague the defense and screw up their well-
thought-out plans. Too bad we couldn't possibly have a transcript of
the radio chatter. I bet it was fairly chaotic.
Walt BJ
Rich Rostrom
2008-04-02 06:25:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by WaltBJ
I haven't seem it mentioned here in this thread but there were two
squadron-sized TBD attacks separated in time and space and even a 4-
B26 Marauder torpedo attack to bedevil the CVs' CAP.
Actually there were 5 separate torpedo plane attacks:

0705 4 B-26s from Midway

0705 6 TBFs from Midway (VT-8 detached)

0920 15 TBDs from HORNET (VT-8)

0945 14 TBDs from ENTERPRISE (VT-6)

1015 12 TBDs from YORKTOWN (VT-3)
--
| People say "There's a Stradivarius for sale for a |
| million," and you say "Oh, really? What's wrong |
| with it?" - Yitzhak Perlman |
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