Significance of the Battle of Midway

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hello,
    At one of the current threads, the opinion was stated that US victory in the Battle of Midway was a tactical one. Didn't want to derail that thread, so maybe we could discuss the importance of that battle here.
    I'll kindly ask that flag waving should be kept on minimum; thanks :) I'll also ask the moderators to keep this thread in this subforum, if that's o.k.
     
  2. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    In a war where Aircraft carriers dominated events the Japanese lost 3 out of 4, a complete disaster for the IJN and a turning point only 6 months after Pearl Harbor.
     
  3. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    The tide actually could have started to turn at Wake six months earlier had the U.S. followed through. What was the significance of Midway? Well, aside from the fact of the licking the Japanese took, I think one has to consider that, as well, from the point of view of where that would have left the U.S. had the Japanese taken it. For that, in itself, I think, it was very significant. It didn't finish the Japanese, by any means, but it turned the Japanese back, put them on their heels.
     
  4. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    If the Japanese had taken Midway, it would have been yet another isolated post that had to be resupplied...something the Japanese were simply unable to do. It could have been readily bypassed with little impact on the rest of the Allied war effort. As it stands, Midway remains a major turning point because from that point on Japan's empire was only ever in a downward spiral towards ultimate defeat.
     
  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Unlike the United States, Japan could not afford to lose a single carrier, let alone three. They could absorbe, to a certain degree, the loss of men and aircraft, without losing their battle capability.

    The loss of those carriers without any tactical gain was disasterous.
     
  6. RCAFson

    RCAFson Well-Known Member

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    #6 RCAFson, Apr 8, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
    The IJN lost all 4 of their fleet carriers present at Midway:

    Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu.
     
  7. Garyt

    Garyt Member

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    Agreed.

    The only potential positive impact for the Japanese would have been if they sunk some American carriers with little loss to their own. And IMO this would have delayed the allied victory a bit, but that's about it.

    I've seen another opinion as to where the true turning point of the Pacific war was, and I've come to if not 100% agree at least see some validity in the thought process. Though Midway was not where the Japanese lost the war - they lost their carriers, yes, but the Guadacanal campaign is where they really lost their airforce. I think the Marianas turkey shoot is a good illustration of this, as they had repaired their carrier forces to a point, but their air arm was far from being up to the task of defeating the allies or even inflicting any significant damage upon them.
     
  8. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I think the Japanese, who had both a striking and a landing task force coming into there, would beg to see that a little differently.
     
  9. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    But where do they go if they succeed in taking Midway? They can't advance further - it just becomes a logistics sink (literally!) for them.
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The lost of four fleet carriers meant that Battle of the Eastern Solomons was fought on more or less even terms. In case the Midway went, say, with two carriers lost on each side, that would mean the Japanese would have 4 fleet carriers vs. a single one for the USN - a result should be easy to forecast: USN has only one operational carrier at the end of 1942, vs. 4 of the IJN?
     
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  11. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering at that, too, buff. I actually asked about it, basically where they go from there, in another thread. It's in the archives, someplace. They didn't come into there from underneath with that huge landing task force, though, had they not been thinking something strategic in reference to that island; the way I see it, anyway.
     
  12. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    sometimes just denying your enemy's use of something can be strategic or tactically important
     
  13. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Also keep in mind that the IJN also lost one of their best carrier commanders, R.Adm. Yamagichi, when the Hiryu sank.
     
  14. beitou

    beitou Member

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    How long after Midway was it before the Japanese had another operational fleet carrier?
     
  15. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    #15 buffnut453, Apr 8, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
    The main purpose was not to take Midway, rather it was to draw out the US Pacific Fleet into open battle where, naturally, the IJN would be victorious. The IJA didn't support the operation because of the resource impact on the Army when there was little tangible gain in terms of defensible real estate. The entire Operation MI plan was lacking in logic and at no stage was wargaming rigour applied, with predictable results. The "diversion" attack on the Aleutians was a stupid dissipation of resources that achieved nothing. Midway is perhaps the best example of Japanese military leaders suffering from "the victory disease".
     
  16. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Japan had other carriers. Midway was simply a means. To fight and destroy the Pacific fleet in a Mahon style decisive battle. Didnt work out that way.
     
  17. Garyt

    Garyt Member

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    Well, the US would have had one of the Midway carriers, the Saratoga, and the Wasp. We also may have seen the Ranger transferred over from the Atlantic.

    That would have been 4 functioning carriers. I know the Wasp and Ranger were lighter, but in terms of aircraft capacity they were as good as anything the Japanese had. Survivability may not have been great, but they were as survivable as the Soryu and Hiryu at least, and with the superior US damage control.

    I think at that point it would be 4 fleet carriers each.
     
  18. Garyt

    Garyt Member

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    Yes and no. They had a handful of escort carriers, carriers with complements of 25-50 planes, and sometimes these were converted merchant ships, which makes them far less fit to handle battle damage.
     
  19. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Shokuko and Zuikaku were as good as Soryu, Kaga, Hiryu and Akagi.
     
  20. RCAFson

    RCAFson Well-Known Member

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    #20 RCAFson, Apr 8, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
    Japan started the war with 6 fleet carriers: Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku.

    Shokaku and Zuikaku were under refit and repair after the Battle of the Coral Sea, and so missed Midway. After Midway they formed the core of the IJN carrier forces. The next "fleet" carriers completed were the Junyo and Hiyo, which became operational in late 1942; however these ships were converted from passenger liners and were not fast nor durable enough to be considered full fledged fleet carriers. The next real fleet carrier to enter service was Taiho in mid 1944. Taiho was a superb ship but had a very flawed avgas stowage system, which proved to be her undoing.

    Japan also had a number, of smaller but fast light carriers which combined with Shokaku and Zuikaku still gave Japan an edge in carrier power over the USN in the Pacific (especially after the loss of Wasp and Hornet) until the arrival in numbers of the Essex class in late 1943. The USN repeatedly pleaded with the RN in 1942 to send RN carriers into the Pacific, and after Operation Torch, the RN did send HMS Victorious, which operated with the USN in Mid 1943 pending the arrival of the Essex class carriers.
     
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