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OK my next 'What if' - Midway.

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  • OK my next 'What if' - Midway.

    During the classic attack by the Enterprise's air group VB-3 attacked the Hiryu but failed to score any hits. Assume VB-3s attack was instead successful and they score a hit. Just one hit. This attack, while not as crippling as the single hit on the Akagi does cause enough damage to seriously delay and weaken Hiru's first and second counter attacks.(That's if the second can be launched at all because of the delay before the US taskforce locates and destroys Hiru.) Damaged or not the Yorktown survives Midway having maintained enough engine power to avoid the fatal submarine attack.

    How does the presence of the one additional carrier effect the Pacific naval campaign for the next 6 to 12 months? Given all other parameters remain the same.
    Last edited by Monash; 29 Dec 20,, 04:38.
    If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

  • #2


    Well maybe there would have been no need for the USS Robin.

    https://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive....arrier-part-i/

    More than likely a greater success would require a better commander than Frank Jack Fletcher. For the rest of the war he seemed overly cautious and risk averse. His attitude towards other commanders at Guadalcanal just about guaranteed near failure early in the campaign. He over cautiousness resulted in poor decision which resulted in Savo and required Turner to leave well before enough supplies, men & equipment got landed on Guadalcanal. Hell, an entire Marine regiment remained afloat when Turner was forced to pull out since Fletcher pulled his aircover.

    So in my estimation after Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz the US has, maybe, one carrier left. Keep in mind the Coral Sea between New Caledonia and Guadalcanal was a real Torpedo Alley with the numerous successful attacks by Japanese subs.

    So to me...unless Kincaid or Halsey is in command sooner not much other than having one US & one British deck in play.

    But really getting the 2 airfields on Guadalcanal operating as well as expanding further Naval airfields to support that campaign is what made the difference.

    Keep in mind there was still a critical shortage of fleet oilers avaialable.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
      Keep in mind there was still a critical shortage of fleet oilers avaialable.
      Which is why the available prewar battleships weren't dispatched to Guadalcanal.

      Imagine a First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal where a couple of 16-inch gunned battleships (USS Colorado and Maryland) were present.
      Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post

        .......So in my estimation after Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz the US has, maybe, one carrier left. Keep in mind the Coral Sea between New Caledonia and Guadalcanal was a real Torpedo Alley with the numerous successful attacks by Japanese subs.

        So to me...unless Kincaid or Halsey is in command sooner not much other than having one US & one British deck in play.

        But really getting the 2 airfields on Guadalcanal operating as well as expanding further Naval airfields to support that campaign is what made the difference.

        Keep in mind there was still a critical shortage of fleet oilers avaialable.
        The question remains though how many carriers would the Japanese have left, especially after Santa Cruz? Wouldn't the odds be significantly raised that both the Zuiho and Shokaku would have been sunk instead of just being badly damaged? If so Japanese carrier operations would have been badly crimped for the rest of the war.
        If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Monash View Post

          The question remains though how many carriers would the Japanese have left, especially after Santa Cruz? Wouldn't the odds be significantly raised that both the Zuiho and Shokaku would have been sunk instead of just being badly damaged? If so Japanese carrier operations would have been badly crimped for the rest of the war.
          I am not going to assume battle damage and/or losses. There are so many variables...will the attacking aircraft even find the enemy target based on weather? Will they get hits? What about damage control measures?

          While the Japanese got out of the battle with their carriers, they were damaged for months. And the next emergence of Japanese airpower was at Philippine Sea where they got crushed.

          Airpower for the remainder of 1942-43 in the Solomons & SW Pacific was land-based...a calculus that favored the Allies as more and more American aircraft production came on line as well as more and more air groups. The Japanese had to pull back to protect Rabaul...with bad results for them.
          “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
          Mark Twain

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          • #6
            The US was launching escort and light aircraft carriers at a rapid rate. The Essex was just months away. I don't think it would even amount to "For want of a nail.the battle was lost." The US just couldn't count on number alone, but this pretty well sums it up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9ag2x3CS9M

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post

              I am not going to assume battle damage and/or losses. There are so many variables...will the attacking aircraft even find the enemy target based on weather? Will they get hits? What about damage control measures?

              While the Japanese got out of the battle with their carriers, they were damaged for months. And the next emergence of Japanese airpower was at Philippine Sea where they got crushed.

              Airpower for the remainder of 1942-43 in the Solomons & SW Pacific was land-based...a calculus that favored the Allies as more and more American aircraft production came on line as well as more and more air groups. The Japanese had to pull back to protect Rabaul...with bad results for them.
              Good points especially about the length of time it took the Japanese to get both carriers back on line. My thinking was simply that in the real world the US Pacific fleet was down to one carrier by the end of 42. To the extent the Japanese carrier fleet had also suffered dramatic losses this didn't matter. Neither side was ready for continued campaigning in the first half of 43. My point was simply that with even 2 fleet carriers operational in early 43 would the US have been in a position to press home attacks on Japans outer defense perimeter and perhaps breach it by say, the middle of the year.
              Last edited by Monash; 07 Jan 21,, 04:42.
              If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Monash View Post
                Good points especially about the length of time it took the Japanese to get both carriers back on line. My thinking was simply that in the real world the US Pacific fleet was down to one carrier by the end of 42. To the extent the Japanese carrier fleet had also suffered dramatic losses this didn't matter. Neither side was ready for continued campaigning in the first half of 43. My point was simply that with even 2 fleet carriers operational in early 43 would the US have been in a position to press home attacks on Japans outer defense perimeter (and perhaps breach it by say the middle of the year.
                You're forgetting the other part, albeit not well advertised but extremely effective, of the Pacific Naval war, US submarines. To put it bluntly, IJN ASW sucked and US subs may not need to challenge Japanese carriers at all. Those oilers would do just fine in crippling the Japanese carrier force.

                Chimo

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                  You're forgetting the other part, albeit not well advertised but extremely effective, of the Pacific Naval war, US submarines. To put it bluntly, IJN ASW sucked and US subs may not need to challenge Japanese carriers at all. Those oilers would do just fine in crippling the Japanese carrier force.
                  Yes sir, by way of checking went back and looked at the figures again and 43 was the year the US Submarine campaign really kicked in and started reducing Japanese merchant marine tonnage. (In 42 the impact was marginal.) So this would obviously be a factor effecting Japans abilities to resist US Pressure in the first half of 43 as per my hypothetical. Question is could the US have done anything useful with just two carries before mid 43? And by useful I mean pushed the Japanese back from their outer defenses at any point.

                  If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

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                  • #10
                    The problem with this scenario is the US doing two simultaneous offenses at once - Europe and the Pacific. Again, if either the USSR or the US went on Japan first while holding Nazi Germany at bay, WWII would have ended much sooner. So, to answer your question. Yes, the US would have been able to go on the offensive. She just had to sacrifice something in the Atlantic
                    Chimo

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                    • #11
                      Monash & OOE,

                      1943 was a pivotal year for the Allies in the Pacific regarding the counteroffensive against Japan.

                      1. 1942 was about holding the line (Coral Sea & Midway) and defending the supply line to ANZACs....hence the Guadalcanal & Port Moresby Campaigns. What limited resources existed went into those 2 campaigns. Meanwhile American combat power was building.

                      2. 1943 would continue to be a buildup of power with a continuous push up the Solomons and New Guinea with the goal of isolating Rabaul. In May 43 the US & Canadians started the push back in the Aleutians. But it would be November before enough shipping and forces were available to attack the Gilberts. Meanwhile the North African Campaign kicked into high gear as well as Sicily & Italy as well as the air campaign against Germany began. 1943 was really the only year of the war where Germany First was truly followed.

                      3. Per the American Submarine Campaign the US Sub fleet had its hands tied in 1942 due to poor doctrine & shitty weapons. Pre-war doctrine was to use the subs as eyes and ears of the surface force and any attacks were to be done underwater based on sound bearings. Magnetic exploders were intended for torpedoes to explode under keels and to break a targets back. Both guaranteed failure. In 1943 a new breed of aggressive submarine commanders switched to attacking on the surface and utilized their improved radars to find targets. Then they said screw BUORD and set torpedoes shallow and deactivated the magnetic exploders and set them to shallow. They went hunting, some (Mush Morton on the Wahoo for one, Sam Dealey in Harder for another) started seeking out and attacking ASW vessels, especially destroyers. Hits started climbing. When 1944 hit the US Pacific Submarine Force would rip the guts out of the Japanese Merchant Marine.
                      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                      Mark Twain

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post

                        Well maybe there would have been no need for the USS Robin.

                        https://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive....arrier-part-i/

                        More than likely a greater success would require a better commander than Frank Jack Fletcher. For the rest of the war he seemed overly cautious and risk averse. His attitude towards other commanders at Guadalcanal just about guaranteed near failure early in the campaign. He over cautiousness resulted in poor decision which resulted in Savo and required Turner to leave well before enough supplies, men & equipment got landed on Guadalcanal. Hell, an entire Marine regiment remained afloat when Turner was forced to pull out since Fletcher pulled his aircover.

                        So in my estimation after Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz the US has, maybe, one carrier left. Keep in mind the Coral Sea between New Caledonia and Guadalcanal was a real Torpedo Alley with the numerous successful attacks by Japanese subs.

                        So to me...unless Kincaid or Halsey is in command sooner not much other than having one US & one British deck in play.

                        But really getting the 2 airfields on Guadalcanal operating as well as expanding further Naval airfields to support that campaign is what made the difference.

                        Keep in mind there was still a critical shortage of fleet oilers avaialable.
                        You might be a bit unfair there.

                        1. After Midway the US had 3 fleet carriers in service, and a medium carrier (Wasp) in the Atlantic. The Japanese had as many as 3 fleet carriers in service and a number of light carriers plus a much larger pool of land based aviation assets in 1942. Fletcher getting his ass handed to him would have forestalled allied offensive action for over a year and left the marines in the Solomon's and the Aussies in New Guinea stranded. Of the operation carriers, two have their airwings shot to shit.

                        2. You can't tie a carrier to real estate, it's got to keep moving. The longer a carrier stays in an area the more likely it is to get hit. Japanese submarines coming into the area was a real risk, Yorktown survived Midway, she was sunk by a sub on her way home. Fletcher had to preserve the carriers and only expend them if there was consumerate payback.

                        3. Fletcher fought 3 carrier battles and won all 3, sinking 6 and losing 2 carriers.

                        4. Savo Island was not Fletcher's fault, Capt Bode, turned off the radar and went to bed while Crutchley was away. And the failure of intelligence reports from Mcarthur's HQ to make it to Turner/Fletcher

                        5. The allies really did suffer from racism. The Royal Navy trained for night combat, the US did not so USN commanders assumed the Japanese did/could not. Ditto for really understanding Japanese torpedo tech. Turns out the Japanese had a well developed doctrine and technological base to enable night operations and fleet killing torpedo attacks. Mikawa used obsolete cruisers to slide in, beat allied ass and had a clear shot at the transports, but pulled back out of fear of Fletcher. This not only saved the transports, but also the HMAS Austraila and the destroyers of the close in force.



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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TopHatter View Post

                          Which is why the available prewar battleships weren't dispatched to Guadalcanal.

                          Imagine a First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal where a couple of 16-inch gunned battleships (USS Colorado and Maryland) were present.
                          They were also too slow, and probably not even in theater due to the oiler issue. The Washington and South Dakota were only thrown in because there was nothing else left and the carriers they had been protecting did not need them anymore.

                          An easier imagining would be, why did Japan not send all 4 Kongo's down the slot? Washington and South Dakota vs Kirishima is almost a foregone conclusion unless the Japanese get some torpedo hits. Kirishima's guns never penetrated South Dakota's belt, at battle ranges the US 16/45"s could defeat Yamato class armor, 3 on 2 (Hiei was already lost) in a much fairer fight, even with South Dakota shitting itself Washington in the dark under Lee puts arguably the best gunnery platform in the world in the fight against 3 ships but a only 2:1 disadvantage in weight, less than that in throw weight. Washinton threw 24,300lbs per salvo, the combined Kongo's threw 35,640lbs. If the changes in scenario keep South Dakota powered up then its 2v 3 89,000 US tons throwing 48,600lbs per salvo from 18 tubes vs 3 Kongos with 82,000 Japanese tons throwing 35,640lbs per salvor from 24 tubes.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by zraver View Post

                            They were also too slow, and probably not even in theater due to the oiler issue.
                            Too slow to escort fast carriers, no question about it. But not too slow to do exactly what they would do later in the war, escort and support amphibious and resupply forces at sea and ashore.

                            Originally posted by zraver View Post
                            The Washington and South Dakota were only thrown in because there was nothing else left and the carriers they had been protecting did not need them anymore.
                            That was the Second Battle of Guadalcanal, I was referring to the First, where they threw in everything available, including a couple of anti-aircraft cruisers that had zero business being there but couldn't be spared.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                              Too slow to escort fast carriers, no question about it. But not too slow to do exactly what they would do later in the war, escort and support amphibious and resupply forces at sea and ashore.
                              Not much room in Iron Bottom Sound, and Colorado was among the least upgraded US ships of WWII. She would have been blind, Maryland wasn't much better. Of the older battleships the Pearl Harbor survivors that had to get extensive refits ended up getting the newest and best electronics. Hence WV creaming Yamashiro at 22K yards on her first salvo. Putting slow and blind battleships into narrow waters....


                              That was the Second Battle of Guadalcanal, I was referring to the First, where they threw in everything available, including a couple of anti-aircraft cruisers that had zero business being there but couldn't be spared.

                              The Atlanta's should have been murder on Japanese destroyers and light cruisers, she smothered one.... Atlanta then got a torpedo and finally got murdered instead by San Francisco, and Juneau got nailed by a sub post battle. The Atlanta's could throw 11,000-15000lbs lbs of HE a minute, 2-5000lbs more than San Francisco. They could out throw any US cruisers until the 8"/55 Mk 16 entered service with the Des Moines post WWII.

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