Pearl Harbor and the carriers?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Feb 23, 2015.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    What would the USN had done, had the USS Lexington CV-2 and USS Enterprise CV-6 been sunk/damaged at Pearl Harbor, leaving them with USS Saratoga CV-3, USS Ranger CV-4, USS Yorktown CV-5, USS Wasp CV-7 and USS Hornet CV-8?
    Mind you, the other carriers would still meet the same destiny, when they did...(if the still went through with the Battle of Coral Sea and Midway)
    Would they still have done Coral Sea and Midway battles?
    Would they have played it safe, wait for more carriers to be built?
    Would the RN have entered the Pacific war sooner?
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    With two CVs sunk USN can no longer afford to employ CV battle groups for propaganda stunts. So there will be no raids on Wake Island and no Tokyo raid. Nor can USN afford to employ a CV battle group as an aircraft transport for Malta.

    With these non essential activities cancelled USN has just as many CVs available for Coral Sea and Midway as they did historically.
     
  3. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It's entirely possible that the battles that did occur historically may not have happened in the event of losses at Pearl, because this would have dictated a change in strategy.

    It would also depend on how bad the carriers were damaged in the 7 December raid, as several capitol (and lessor) ships were repaired and put back into service in a relatively short time: Tennessee (BB-43) back in service February 42, Maryland (BB-46) back in service February 42, Helena (CL-50) back in service summer 42. A few other BBs were back in service as late as 1944.

    If any carriers were repaired and put back into service within the year, then this may have only delayed eventual battles, but I am willing to bet that Japan wasn't going to wait for this to happen...
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The Wasp was sometimes used to ferry RAF aircraft to Malta. Loss of 2 capable carriers would mean that Wasp goes to Pacific from day one, so RN will do the ferrying. So RN will be ill able to send anything to Pacific.
    We'd probably see the Atlantic without USN fleet carriers, even without the Ranger.

    Attack on Tokyo was probably a much more worth than a publicity stunt. Japanese didn't see it as stunt.
     
  5. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    Did the IJN have a coherent follow up plan?
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Every competent military has numerous contingency plans. WWII era Japan was no exception. Some of them are detailed in "Shattered Sword".

    http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/australia/oceania_pol01.jpg
    Historical Japan planned to further isolate Australia by occupying Johnson Island during August 1942. That would undoubtedly be followed by other islands further south.

    Of course these operations could and probably should have been accomplished ILO Midway during June 1942. So you cannot count on an opponent doing the logical thing.
     
  7. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    None of that would have made any difference. They needed Pearl, the Islands. Put an X through all that. They win. Who was going to stop them?
     
  8. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    The Carriers at Pearl! One hear this so often. In reality There were only two carriers in the Pacific at the time, Lexington and Enterprise. Saratoga was between Bremerton and San Diego, Yorktown and Wasp were in the Atlantic, along with the Ranger, and Hornet was off Bermuda working up.

    Biggest changes: CVN 65 gets a different name, and Star Trek has the Starship Constellation.
     
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  9. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Lol. But yeah, that was pretty much the size of it.
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    I was, of course being flippant, so a more studious answer:
    Everything went almost perfect for the Japanese the first 6 months, so it is real hard for them to speed up. But likely changes:

    1) In the first 6 months of war, life is a little bit easier in the Marshall Islands.

    2) I think no raid on Tokyo, because the USA will always keep some carriers in reserve at Pearl, and cancel the operation. It takes two carriers to do the operation, so at a minimum it is delayed. Without this operation, and operation like Midway is not approved.

    3) With fewer carriers, do we send ships to the Coral Sea? I guess not, but this could go either way. I think this happens even without the Tokyo raid.

    4) When we have the 4 carriers available, and we get a chance with the code breakers we will try to take advantage of the Japanese somewhere. The question becomes when and where will the Japanese present an opportunity. These ships spent a lot of time in port.

    5) By mid to late 1943, the USA is doing major offensive operations, and their is a chance the USA only does the Central Pacific plan, if which it does, the war is quicker. Once the USA has the huge navy, the operations in the SW Pacific were unneeded. It was a good tactical move to weaken the Japanese with land base airpower before we had enough carriers to do something like Guam.

    6) By 1944, in any case, the USA is advancing in the Central Pacific, unless you have another unexpected carrier victory somewhere by the Japanese, or something strange.

    So, in short, it ends the same, but probably has a lot less heroic sea battles just a few really big ones, and it maybe pretty quite between Jan 1942 and May 43. Due to Japanese doctrine, one or two really huge naval battles will happen in 43 or 44.
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The Battle for the Coral Sea will be fought as happened. Midway, maybe that will be different. If the US does not attack Japsn, then maybe Yamamoto's planning rationale is altered?
     
  12. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The Tokyo Raid might not have been seen as a success from a tactical point of view, since there was nominal damage inflicted.

    However, it did have several results, one of which was far-reaching.

    First of all, it forced the realization that Japan was not invincible and resources were diverted to defenses throughout the mainland as a result.

    Secondly, Japan lost face. They were of the mindset that no one could (or would) dare do something of that nature and yet, there it was. This perpetuated the Battle of Midway not so much as a retaliation, but because Yamamoto realized that the U.S. carriers still posed a threat and needed to be drawn out for a decisive victory.

    So Yamamoto's "operation MI" would enable him to draw the U.S. carriers into a great battle, crush them and save face. Sort of an "all in one" kind of deal.

    Unfortunately, things didn't work out the way he intended.
     
  13. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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  14. pinehilljoe

    pinehilljoe Member

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    Jonathan Parshall looked at the economics. In his article he compared if the US had lost Midway. It would have been a one year set back, when you compare carrier production.

    Grim Economic Realities
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Japans whole strategy up to Phil sea was looking for the "decisive battle" and from Pearl on that meant destruction of the enemy's carrier fleet whilst retaining their own offensive capability. Supporting their "decisive battle" concept were the operations of their big fleet submarines, that were supposed to inflict heavy attrition on the USN to even up the odds in these climactic battles.

    none of these prewar assumptions really worked as they had been intended. The US recovery capabilities were too strong and the Japanese reserves too meagre and replacement rates too slow to be effective. The fleet subs were found too slow to tackle the US fast carrier forces.

    If the USN was forced to use all of its fast carriers including RANGER in the front line, its training and aircrew quality would have suffered in a similar way to the Japanese. The limitations on RANGER are in fact such that she would be of limited use in the pacific anyway. That leaves WASP, SARATOGA, YORKTOWN and HORNET. SARATOGA was effectively removed for some months in January due to a torpedo hit from IJN I-boat, that effectively leaves 3 top shelf Fleet carriers to face off against 6 IJN fleet carriers and 4 Light carriers, increasing to another 2 fleet carrier conversions in June/July. a critical question in this early period is whether the USN, with just 3 fleet carriers can generate enough friction to keep the IJN on the hop. a month of reduced operations around March or April will allow the IJN the ability to shore up their crumbling pilot reserves and might induce them to keep their fleet carriers concentrated rather than breaking them into bits for piecemeal attacks as they did. If the IJN can somehow remain concentrated, and threaten vital US interests in the Pacific, they might be able to pull off an upset that buys them some time, say 12 months.

    There are a lot of ifs in this alternative, making it less than a 50% chance of success. Likely outcome is that nothing substantive changes, but just the same the loss of two carriers at the outset makes it hard to see things panning out s well as historically was the case for the USN .
     
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  16. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    If's buts or maybe's the japanese would have simply extended the eventual out come as you guys say...maybe 12 months more or less, US industrial power once in gear....game over.
     
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  17. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I agree, it comes down to manufacturing.
     
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  18. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Its not only production, but quality. And that compounded the woes of the Japanese.
     
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  19. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Part of an article from a 1945 Popular Mechanics magazine I have that discusses the quality attribute with land weapons.
    Postwar propaganda? Dunno, but it's a fun read.

    inferior.jpg
     
  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #20 parsifal, Jul 27, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
    The IJA in 1942, even 1943 was comparable qualitatively with the US army, despite the bombast about guadacanal and midway that we are doubtless about to receive. In Us led forces did less well elsewhere against the japanese, particularly at buna and of course at the very beginning. Equipment wise the US army was inferior in December 1941, about the same as the IJA the following December (in the pacific) and pulling well ahead by early 1944. By 1945, the IJA was on the ropes quality wise
    some of their stuff was good. their 70 inf gun was superior to any comparable gun in the US inventory until the 75mm pack howitzer, and even then the US gun was too heavy. The Japanese relied heavily on their 75mm mountain guns which could be broken down into man portable loads. Allied infantry were in those early stages always limited to mortars that were not nearly as useful as these light artillery pieces. Later the Japanese used their slow firing 8mm Hotchkiss HMGs to good effect, using them to apply mortar style plunging fire into Allied weapon pits in the Jungle

    Japanese tactics at the beginning were pretty poor, their experiences in China making them over confident. they relied on archaic bayonet charges and attached insufficient direct firepower to the squad to give it effective fire suppression capability. Their fire discipline for their heavy artillery was terrible, and their efforts at the beginning for concealment laughable. Later they applied camouflage to a masterful extent and got a lot out of their very limited artillery parks. by then it was all way too late, with the US fire support teams just blowing them away in most exchanges . Just the same their defensive abilities were excellent to the end, making them a formidable opponent to the end
     
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