What other fighters could have been made available to the marines at Battle of Midway

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by pinsog, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. pinsog

    pinsog Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    658
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The marine fighter squadron was decimated at the Battle of Midway while flying Brewster Buffalo's and a few Wildcats. What other fighter could the US have provided them at that time that would have performed better? Were there any P38's that could have been stationed on the island? (flown by USAAF crews of course) Were there any other American fighters that could have been stationed there that would have done a better job?
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,988
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Even the P-40 P-39 seem like far better choice than Buffaloes, let alone the P-38. Of course, the fighters need to be available in decent numbers to make a difference. P-38s were in short supply prior 1944.
    The inter-service rivalry might've gotten in the way, though ;)
     
  3. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,480
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    There were Army bombers stationed at Midway, B-17 and B-26, don't see that fighters would have been refused.

    The Marines only had 20 Buffalos and 7 Wildcats, and 3 Wildcats and 13 Buffalos were downed in the first encounter.

    Looking back, it probably would have been better if they had all Wildcats at least.

    But this was June of 1942, everybody was scrambling to get any kind of aircraft to a lot of different bases. They fought with what they had.
     
  4. Dcazz7606

    Dcazz7606 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2012
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    facilities - public schools
    Location:
    Jaffrey, Nh
    Any other front line planes would have been better but... given the odds at the Battle of Midway their performance was not that bad even though the Buffalo may have been. Considering the japanese attacked with 106 bombers and fighters. Their losses of 10 planes vs. the numbers tyrod tom put up the fight these obsolete planes put up was heroic and IMO effective until the inevitable happened.
     
  5. pinsog

    pinsog Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    658
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Were there 26 P38's available and battle ready in June 1942? I'm not sure when the P38 was actually ready for combat.
     
  6. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,988
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    - draws The Book -

    On May 29 1942, the 1st combat deployment to Alaska is made, 25 of P-39Es go there, winterized* with drop tanks. Half a year before, the P-38Ds are present with 69 examples in combat units. From April 15th, 1942, preparations are being made with 100 P-38Fs to be ferried across Atlantic.
    On June 11th, 1942, the all-P38 1st fighter group is ordered to go to West coast, but later ordered for Maine.

    * quite in contrast with serious issues in ETO in high altitude
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I'd equip them with P-40Es. It's faster then the A6M2 and Midway had radar ground control. So with proper training (however unlikely) the Marines should have the upper hand.
     
  8. pinsog

    pinsog Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    658
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Interesting. Why would you choose the P40E over the P39? Could they have scrounged up 26 combat ready P38's during that time period?
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,480
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    There were 124 aircraft on Midway, 7 different types. But only 27-28 fighters.

    Look at a aerial view of Midway, where did they put 124 aircraft ? Of course 31 were Catalinas.

    But from the big varity of aircraft, it's sort of evident they were scrounging aircraft from where ever they could get them. It's just 6 months since Pearl Harbor, and only a couple months since the battle of the Coral Sea.
     
  10. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    Bear in mind that VMF-221 were still using outdated division tactics and, for the most part, were inexperienced pilots many of whom were straight out of training. Given these facts, I don't think substituting the F2A-3s for a different aircraft would have made much difference.
     
  11. pinsog

    pinsog Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    658
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    18
    #11 pinsog, Feb 23, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
    I knew he pilots had no experience, but I am strictly interested in what other American fighters of the time could have stood in the place of the, mostly Buffalo's, that were used.

    What model Wildcats did they have? F4F-4 or F4F-3? I'm guessing F4F-3
     
  12. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    Since it was a Marine squadron, the only option would have been Wildcats and they weren't available in sufficient numbers (or there would have been more of them at Midway in the first place). However, per my previous post, I very much doubt if changing equipment would have, to quote you, "done a better job".
     
  13. pinsog

    pinsog Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    658
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    18
    In my very 1st post, I said it would be fine to sustitute USAAF aircraft and crews, so you are not limited to re-equiping the inexperienced Marine squadron on the island.
     
  14. JoeB

    JoeB Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2006
    Messages:
    809
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    #14 JoeB, Feb 23, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
    But nothing really changed that much between the Marine fighters at Midway and early Guadalcanal. The units at Guadalcanal, especially the early ones, weren't that much better prepared. The famous fighter leader at G'canal, Marion Carl, was present in the Midway fight (flying F4F-3 and credited with a Zero) but otherwise most Marine units at G'canal saw their first combat there. And Marine F4F tactics at G'canal were improvised as they went, and in many cases don't fit the standard thumbnail sketch of tactics evolution v the Zero (for example later in the campaign the Marines sometimes sought to dogfight Zeroes, while the IJN units sought to 'hit and run'). The tactical situations at G'canal were often different, OTOH that of VMF-221 at Midway was not that terribly unfavorable, outnumbered, but they were above the Japanese force when the combat began.

    You can't conclude much from one combat anyway, but I think it's worth noting that VMF-221 thought the F4F-3 was a much superior a/c to the F2A-3, even if some of the written accounts saying so may have been influenced by hindsight But it's not a just a conclusion outside observers reached. Also, though it's subdividing an already very small sample, the F4F's record v Zero in this combat was not so far below its general level of parity in kill ratio: 4 Zeroes were credited to the Marines, the two most credible to each F2A and F4F, and one Zero was downed by the USMC fighters (another certainly by AA) and another Zero pilot died of wounds though managed to land his a/c, v 2 F4F's downed.

    Anyway, in not much later months Marine fighter units had a pretty good record v Zeroes, in a period of limited action by Army fighters; but Army P-39's in New Guinea in the few months between Midway and the start of the G'canal campaign had a much tougher go v Zeroes, similarly couldn't add much at Gudalcanal due to lack of altitude capability (partly due to special factor wrt O2 equipment which didn't pertain in NG). Again these were often missions against escorted higher flying twin engine enemy bombers at G'canal and Port Moresby (in many cases though not all cases in either place), rather than the single incident v a carrier strike at Midway. But in general US Army fighters didn't do as well as USN and USMC ones v Zeroes in 1942.

    Joe
     
  15. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    #15 buffnut453, Feb 24, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
    Hi Joe,

    I think you raise some valid points but the situation at Guadalcanal was very different from that at Midway:

    1. Attacks against Guadalcanal employed far smaller numbers of Japanese aircraft - defenders frequently outnumbered the Japanese fighters.
    2. Guadalcanal benefitted from earlier warning via the Coastwatcher system and the defenders always knew from which direction the Japanese would be coming.
    3. Guadalcanal had more fighters available both in raw numbers and in the numbers that could be tactically massed (at Midway VMF-221's 4 Divisions were committed piecemeal as they were considered discrete tactical elements).
    4. Japanese fighters had less combat time over Guadalcanal - their operating bases were 200 miles more distant from Guadalcanal than were the Japanese aircraft carriers from Midway.

    The net result of these differences was that the USMC and USN fighters were able to mass more defensive fighters at higher altitude than was achievable at Midway against a less numerous adversary who had less combat loiter time over the target. Given these differences, it's hardly surprising that the USMC and USN pilots at Guadalcanal did better. The drawn-out nature of the Solomons campaign also enabled tactical evolution - early results against the Zero, IIRC, weren't particularly good during the early phases of the battle for Guadalcanal but they improved as experience increased and tactics evolved.

    Bland kill/loss figures don't represent the subtle (and sometimes major) differences in tactical conditions between locations that have a tremendous impact on the outcome of tactical battles.

    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  16. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,923
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Tired and Retired
    Location:
    Northeast North Carolina
    #16 oldcrowcv63, Feb 24, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
    Regardless of the aircraft used at Midway, considering the beating taken by both defending marine fighters and attacking marine dive bombers and USN and USA torpedo bearing aircraft (TBF-1 and B-26B), I agree with other commenators on the battle, that the long legged F2As and shorter legged F4F-3s would have been better employed as escorts. The Japanese A6M CAP defenders would likely have been mainly focused on attacking the bombers. The escorts, with numbers comparable to the airborne IJN cap, might have been far more effective and at the very least absorbed the attention of many of the harrassing A6Ms attempting to get to the bombers. The inability of the attacking bombers to score a single hit masks the fact that some (Lofton Henderson's 16 SBD-2's) apparently came very close with their glide bombing attack, while others (the Vought SB2U Wind Indicators) were diverted by the strong CAP to attacking targets of secondary importance.

    I recall reading somewhere. (Prange) that the Yorktown's escorted VT-5 suffered grievous losses (10 of 12 shot down) trying to make runs on TWO different carriers. Finding themselves with a less than optimum attack geometry on the first, (Akagi) they apparently chose to try again and attacked the Hiryu extending the time spent and losses suffered under the guns of the IJN. This was apparently reported by Fuchida
     
  17. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    retired
    Location:
    rural east Texas
    About tactics at Midway being the same as those used at G’canal - I’ve read that for months after Pearl Harbor (and Midway was only 6 months later) the Military (as usual) was very slow to change Peace Time Doctrine. Even though Chennault had demonstrated how new tactics could enable success the “Higher Powers” didn’t react quickly.

    Maybe it is just me, but isn’t is obvious that the Marines could use only aircraft provided by the USN - and the Navy was never going to use an Army Plane in large numbers at this stage of the war.

    But tomo pauk has a point - why were only Army Bombers at Midway? Probably tyrodtom is right - there just wasn’t room for them and then there is that inter service rivalry.

    As to the Army vs. the IJN in 1942 - at this stage there was just very little contact between the two, most of the US AAF action was against the IJA.
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Early model P-39s had some problems I'd rather avoid.
    - Low fuel capacity resulting in low endurance.
    - Hub cannon was unreliable. If the cannon doesn't work then you don't have much firepower.
    - Exhaust fumes leaking into cockpit.
    . Compass mount was poor causing it to malfunction when guns were fired.
    - Handling problems.

    The P-40E wasn't an Uber fighter but it was sturdy, reliable and had a reputation for being easy to fly. A good aircraft for mass produced wartime fighter pilots.
     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,988
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    P-40 was a good match for Japanese opposition prior 1944, tough, fast enough, with sufficient firepower; main issue was that it needed to be scrambled early enough in order to climb to a decent altitude, at least to the level enemy was coming in. But than that was the case for all interceptors, and not something granted in 1942. A plus is also that it displayed no vices, so novice pilots would not be killed by their mount that easily.
    P-39 needed some debugging (cannon mostly), it carried less fuel than P-40, and it was far less a forgiving airplane.
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    That should be easy on a small island like Midway as radar should detect a large air raid at maximum range. Unless the enemy start flying nape of the earth.
     
Loading...

Share This Page