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MidwayŚ77 Years Ago, Today.


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#41 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 1652 PM

 

Midways defenses were pretty beefed up so I think a successful invasion was by no means a certainty,


The understatement of the decade. Midway was the exact opposite of Wake.

Let's ignore the 7" guns, the 5" guns, the 3" guns, the 37 and 20mm guns, the company of tanks, the mass of machine guns, the entirely mined and barbed wired beaches.

Midway had lot's and lot's of Marines and the Japanese had no idea how to assault a heavily fortified position. Nobody had.

 

 

Yeah, hence Shattered Sword's assessment that the IJN probably would have been able to basically wreck Midway but whether they could actually take it was pretty iffy.


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#42 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 1655 PM

Most of my knowledge about Midway came from Incredible Victory by Walter Lord and Morrison's history.

If anything could be called 'inspired', I think it would be the 'water ruse', that proved Midway was the Japanese objective. 

 

That was totally brilliant IMHO, as were the efforts of Rochefort and the other codebreakers overall. He's up there with Turing in my book.


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#43 Adam_S

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 1839 PM

A few thoughts.

 

Yes the USN didn't have to fight at Midway, but if they didn't then they'd end up having to face those carriers somewhere else, which even before the invasion of Guadalcanal would probably have looked to USN planners as being in the South West Pacific. At Midway, they had a lot of advantages which they potentially would have lost in trying to fight a decisive battle somewhere else. At Midway, they had decent intelligence about Japanese intentions. They had land based air support while the Japanese did not, and were close to a friendly base at Pearl. Pre-1944, that is about as favorable set of circumstances for taking on Kido Butai as could have been hoped for.

 

IIRC because it's been a few years since I read much about it, the Japanese invasion plan for Midway involved the landing troops paddling rubber boats over a coral reef, under fire. That would not have been much fun, I expect. Also IIRC, the battleships were meant to be held back for the anticipated decisive battle when the USN showed up after a few days and were not allocated to naval gunfire support. There was a separate group of heavy cruisers that went with the landing force that were supposed to be the main bombardment units. Even if the battleships had been committed, time and logistics would have precluded the sort of massive, multi-day plastering that the USN was able to dish out later in the war. Even bombardments on that scale were not enough to neutralise island defenses on their own, so the kind of bombardment the IJN would have been able to carry out, while it might have been damaging, would not have been enough to decide the issue. Kirishima and Hiei's efforts to knock out Henderson Field later in the war spring to mind.

 

Had the USN decided to not contest Midway, and had the Japanese invasion succeeded, I'm not convinced that the US public or leadership would see it as a decisive enough defeat to want to open negotiations. Midway happened after the Doolittle raid, and USN carrier groups had been hitting targets all over the Pacific in the previous months. More of those raids could easily have been carried out, and the results spun in the press to generate popular support for continuing the war. Holding Guadalcanal would have been tougher in the face of a stronger Kido Butai but even if it falls, or if the US decides to not contest in in the first place, and the IJN goes after US bases in places like Noumea or Espirito Santo, they can't occupy Australia and they can't inflict a decisive defeat on the USN. Units that were sent to New Guinea and the Solomons historically could be sent to Australia to prop up the war effort there and in a bit over a year the Essexes and Independences start coming on line.


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#44 JasonJ

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 2011 PM

The Anglo Japanese Alliance no longer made strategic sense for the British anyway. They didn't need to worry about a European power making trouble in the Pacific while they were preoccupied in Europe, the Americans were more important friends than Japan, and Japan was a rival in China.

 

You're arguments are starting to feel just simply anti-Japan.

 

The British had many possessions in South East Asia. If the Anglo-Japan alliance continued, then the British would feel more assured that those assets would be safe from Japanese.

 

But then maybe those assets would be unsafe from the US.


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#45 R011

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 2024 PM

That wasn't what was happening in real life. The UK was very concerned by Japanese actions in China for much the same reasons as the US, like trade and international aggression, plus fears for the security of British possessions.
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#46 JasonJ

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 2033 PM

 

 

1. I was repkying to tge claim tgat Japan would have done much better if the Washington Treaty had not been signed.
2. An IJN victory at Midway eould have made little or no difference to the outcome. By 1944, the Allies had such an overwhelming advantage that total defeat in 1945 was inevitable.

1) But it does highlight the overall trend of long term US foreign policy and setting. If the US was so almighty, why not just settle for 5:5:5?

2) Had all three been knocked out, whats stopping Japan dominating Guadalcanal. What would stop them from getting Ports Moresby? Even with our current history of how Midway played out, the US still didn't conduct a major sea offensive until 1944. A defeat at Midway wouldn't mean the same overwhelming advatange as has happened.

1. The idea was to limit armaments, save money, and ensure a balance of power. The British Empire was a worldwide power. The US was a two ocean power. Japan was a Pacific power. Hence 5:5:3.

2. And if they did, how long would they keep them? Logistics, not just available land and sea forces were the major limit to Japanese advance. Indeed, they barely had enough fuel for what they had. Four more IJN carriers mean little when by 1944 the USN had a dozen fleet carriers and several dozen CVE plus the RN being mostly freed from all but ASW in the Atlantic.

 

 

1) Why should balance of power be balanced on US superiority in a forward position in the Asia Pacific region? US doesn't live here. Japan does. Japan was also an island country without is own natural resources. During those treaty negotiations, this was no secret. And the US was listening in on Japanese communications and so according to the eavesdropping aimed for the lowest acceptable terms. Balance of power gets used in diplomatic exchanges, backing diplomacy. And even with the 5:5:3, the US Navy was training with Japan in mind as the enemy in scenario revolving the Philippines. The purpose of the treaty was to save money and to propel the US to top position. It was also no secret that the US had the production advantage as well. It is why the actual result infuriated some Japanese. As Nobu said, it preset the stage with Japan at a disadvantage, at the mercy of US diplomacy. To escape that mercy was the super Yamato battleship for over matching US battleships and the PH attack plan.

 

Japanese could have still been defeated on the ground invasion. The more important point is the trade off of carriers. Four more IJN carriers and their experienced crew would mean a whole of difference. Even more important than the number of carriers was the number of experienced pilots. Instead of confident and experienced American pilots, it would be well trained but inexperienced. It shouldn't have to be said that just simply being trained doesn't cover everything about literally being in a war. The experienced Japanese few pilots that survived beyond 1942 continued to fly well and make good trades. If there was more of them, it would make a big difference.

 

Another potential difference would have been if the material need for replacement carriers and fighters was less pressing, then more resources could have been diverted for shipping and ASW. And ASW operations would also improve with the benefit of improved territory holdings in the Southern scene. That translate into improved oil transport from Indonesia back to Japan.


Edited by JasonJ, 08 June 2019 - 2038 PM.

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#47 JasonJ

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 2035 PM

That wasn't what was happening in real life. The UK was very concerned by Japanese actions in China for much the same reasons as the US, like trade and international aggression, plus fears for the security of British possessions.

 

Japanese aggression in China has been exaggerated. The US didn't want to press negatively on CKS on his adventures because the US didn't want him to favor the Soviet Union. The start of the fighting in 1937 was as much fault from the Chinese side as it was from the Japanese side.


Edited by JasonJ, 08 June 2019 - 2036 PM.

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#48 R011

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 2051 PM

Why would either the US or British Empire accept less than effective parity in the Pacific with Japan? Either they put it in an arms control treaty, or they spend money and risk conflict by beating Japan in an arms race.

Your claims that Japanese bullying of China started only in 1937 is just more lies to excuse Japanese aggression and crimes against humanity.
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#49 JasonJ

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 2102 PM

Why would either the US or British Empire accept less than effective parity in the Pacific with Japan? Either they put it in an arms control treaty, or they spend money and risk conflict by beating Japan in an arms race.

Your claims that Japanese bullying of China started only in 1937 is just more lies to excuse Japanese aggression and crimes against humanity.

 

Why should US and Great Britain have parity in a place far from their home base? The only other major navies out there was France and Italy and those two pretty much cancel each other out, making France no problem for Great Britain.

 

The worse of Japanese offenses started in 1937.

 

Manchuria was a fairly wealthy warlord clique from 1915ish up until the late 1920s. And Japan backed this clique. The clique didn't really like Japan, but it served as a buffer with the Soviet Union, and Japan remained off hands. This clique would have its time in the Chinese civil war. The leader was incompetent. The economy went bust by 1928. The Soviets controlled a rail line running right through the middle of it and down to Vladivostok and the Soviets ensured that control in a war against the Chinese in 1929. Manchuria was a sitting duck. Japan took it all with only 60,000 men. If Manchokou was recognized by the US and Great Britain, than maybe CKS would come to terms and accept that reality and just keep propaganda centered on main heart area China. Even if Japanese invasion of Manchuria is still disagreeable by today's so-considered respectable historians and media, why is the 1929 war and the history of that clique never mentioned?


Edited by JasonJ, 08 June 2019 - 2110 PM.

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#50 R011

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 2129 PM

Yes. The West had no interests in Asia. No trade with China. No allies and colonies like Hong Kong, Malaya, Australia, India, the Philippines. Of course, they could always count on the good intentions of whatever military clique happened to be in charge at the time. Why, that's hardly more reason to be interested than now. Perhaps the West should ignore the PRC?.

And it wasn't as if Japan hadn't already fought one war of agression against China or tried to grab more territory and concessions from China at Versailles.
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#51 JasonJ

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 2149 PM

Yes. The West had no interests in Asia. No trade with China. No allies and colonies like Hong Kong, Malaya, Australia, India, the Philippines. Of course, they could always count on the good intentions of whatever military clique happened to be in charge at the time. Why, that's hardly more reason to be interested than now. Perhaps the West should ignore the PRC?.

And it wasn't as if Japan hadn't already fought one war of agression against China or tried to grab more territory and concessions from China at Versailles.

 

This post is so incoherent that I'm not responding anymore.


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#52 Markus Becker

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 0519 AM

Had the Washington Treaty not been signed, Japan would have had perhaps six more capital ships and the USN ten.


I don't think so. One, they planned to build battle ships and battle cruisers, two they could not afford their grand eight-eight plan anyway.

Had they tried, they would have bankrupted themselves in a futile effort to keep up with the USA and the British Empire and probably ended up in a worse situation when being forced to negotiate.
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#53 Ken Estes

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 1101 AM

I think the evident anti Yellow racism present in the US would have prevented any settlement with the Japanese Empire after PH.

 

Japan could not conceivably overcome the defenses of Oahu, hence occupying any of the HI island group remained untenable. The US West coast was equally unreachable by the IJN. The Two-Ocean Navy was on the ways and the new classes of BBs, CAs, CLs and DDs and naval aircraft were entering service.

 

Australia was too large for the JA to invade and occupy and the IJN had not the fuel reserves to go past Port Moresby and, perhaps, New Caledonia. This applied equally to operations in the Eastern Pacific and Indian Ocean, at least in 1942-43.


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#54 RETAC21

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 1120 AM

The Navy faction, certainly. The atmosphere regarding the inevitability of war with the US at the command level of the Imperial Japanese Army was likely less favorable to such naval obsessions.

 

The impact of the intelligence superiority was punishing, as Yamamoto's plan made sense operationally.

 

No, it didn't, it needed the USN to act exactly as required by the plan.

 

Tactically, perhaps, although it should be considered that even though the USN did not do so, the Combined Fleet still had a chance that day.

 

Operationally, point No. 3 on your rather one-dimensional list of what could go wrong for Japan is the only one I'd consider applicable. I'd also agree with it, as not offering battle would have been frustrating for the IJN, to put it mildly.

 

Why, sorry, but other than dropping terms you evidently don't understand (operational, tactical) can you show how Midway's plan was operationally sensible? 


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#55 Nobu

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 1156 AM

Threatening a Hawaiian island in order to bring the USN out for battle would have been counterproductive from the perspective of the IJN as well based on proximity to Hawaii's un-neutralizable land-based airpower infrastructure relative to Midway's. On this rare point, the Navy and Army would probably have agreed.

 

Midway would have been tough to crack, but how relatively untried and raw American troops would react in battle under conditions of total Japanese naval and air dominance was not a certainty at this point in the war, just 8 weeks removed from the surrender of Wainright's 15,000 American troops to the IJA 14th Army in the Philippines Campaign.

 

They could very well have fought to the last man. They also could very well have laid down their arms, heads bloody but unbowed or otherwise.

 

Why, sorry, but other than dropping terms you evidently don't understand (operational, tactical) can you show how Midway's plan was operationally sensible? 

 

Threaten something of the enemy's close enough for it to rescue navally, but far away enough to deny a role for its un-neutralizable land-based airpower.

Wait for the USN to come charging to the rescue.

Attrit it on its way in.

Knock its block off in Tsushima-like fashion when it arrives.

 

The USN not offering battle would be operationally frustrating, as the question at the IJN high command level at that point would probably be something along the lines of how many cries for rescue from surrounded American forces it would take for the USN to respond to them.


Edited by Nobu, 09 June 2019 - 1311 PM.

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#56 JWB

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 1204 PM

Except Wainright had to surrender because the men were starving to death.


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#57 Markus Becker

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 1320 PM

 

Midway would have been tough to crack, but how relatively untried and raw American troops would react in battle under conditions of total Japanese naval and air dominance was not a certainty at this point in the war, just 8 weeks removed from the surrender of Wainright's 15,000 American troops to the IJA 14th Army in the Philippines Campaign.

 

That would have been a "Tarawa on steroids" debacle. 

 

- the pre landing bombardment was short and due to be done by CA.

- a reef that blocks landing craft

- no Amtracks

- no radio communication to the CA

- lot's of automatic weapons ranging from a BAR to a 37mm AA gun and in front of that:

- mines of the beaches

- barbed wire

 

BTW, the relatively untried and raw American troops on Wilkes Island counterattacked and destroyed a numerically much superior Japanese force of app 90, loosing nine in the process. 


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#58 RETAC21

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 1358 PM

Threatening a Hawaiian island in order to bring the USN out for battle would have been counterproductive from the perspective of the IJN as well based on proximity to Hawaii's un-neutralizable land-based airpower infrastructure relative to Midway's. On this rare point, the Navy and Army would probably have agreed.

 

Midway would have been tough to crack, but how relatively untried and raw American troops would react in battle under conditions of total Japanese naval and air dominance was not a certainty at this point in the war, just 8 weeks removed from the surrender of Wainright's 15,000 American troops to the IJA 14th Army in the Philippines Campaign.

 

They could very well have fought to the last man. They also could very well have laid down their arms, heads bloody but unbowed or otherwise.

 

Why, sorry, but other than dropping terms you evidently don't understand (operational, tactical) can you show how Midway's plan was operationally sensible? 

 

Threaten something of the enemy's close enough for it to rescue navally, but far away enough to deny a role for its un-neutralizable land-based airpower.

Wait for the USN to come charging to the rescue.

Attrit it on its way in.

Knock its block off in Tsushima-like fashion when it arrives.

 

The USN not offering battle would be operationally frustrating, as the question at the IJN high command level at that point would probably be something along the lines of how many cries for rescue from surrounded American forces it would take for the USN to respond to them.

 

That sure as hell didn't work as intended in Wake island, why would it work in Midway? The Philippines surrendered after a tough defence, the same Marines defeated the Japanese in Guadalcanal, without any additional experience, so the propects for Midway weren't good no matter what.

 

Yamamoto's plan involved an attack on the Aleutians, which were irrelevant, to draw USN forces away, but it was done at the same time, meaning its forces were not doing anything relevant and breaking the concentration of force principle.

 

On top of this, the IJN was dispersed all over the place in formations that weren't supporting each other, so once the carriers were sunk, there was nothing useful they could do but pull back. 

 

Further, absent intelligence, Midway could be ignored even if it fell in Japanese hands, as it was in the middle of nowhere, it's impact on the war afterwards being just a refueling spot for subs.

 

Even if everything had gone the IJN way, the Americans can just withdraw before the battleships come into play, which is what Yamamoto expected to deliver the decisive blow, not unreasonably because the air groups were likely to be depleted after the initial battle and invasion.

 

In short, a complex plan that failed operationally and tactically.


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#59 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 1446 PM

Actually Tarawa's defenses were fairly comparable to Midway's (more troops overall, fewer combat troops, probably rather better static defenses, same number of tanks). US amphibious doctrine was vastly more sophisticated than Japan's, attacking force had enormously more naval support, two divisions of Marines and it was still a bloodbath for us.


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#60 R011

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 1510 PM

I don't think so. One, they planned to build battle ships and battle cruisers, two they could not afford their grand eight-eight plan anyway.

Had they tried, they would have bankrupted themselves in a futile effort to keep up with the USA and the British Empire and probably ended up in a worse situation when being forced to negotiate.


I agree. They would be doing well to build six of those planned sixteen.
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