Yet Another Battle of Midway thread! Yamaguchi replaces Nagumo

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by oldcrowcv63, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #1 oldcrowcv63, Nov 30, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
    Forget the changing the date for the Midway confrontation.

    in posting on Parsifal's WW2 naval commander thread, I remembered that RAdm Yamaguchi Commander IJN's CARDIV 2 consisting of Soryu and Hiryu told Nagumo to launch the readied strike with whatever ordnance they had rather than delaying to recover the morning strike and to reload his Kates for anti-ship action. had Yamaguchi been in command or had Nagumo listened to his more aggressive subordinate the battle would probably have been very different.

    Time line from: Timeline: Battle of Midway

    0705 The first US attacks launched from Midway arrive over Kido Butai.
    0810 Vindicators make unsuccessful attack on IJN BBs.
    0820 Scout reports presence of USN CV within 200 miles.
    Yamaguchi argues with Nagumo about whether to immediately launch strike against USN CVs or await recovery of the Midway strike force while rearming the Kates.
    0837 IJN CVs turn into wind for Midway strike force recovery
    0918 IJN Midway strike recovery complete
    0920 Hornet's VT-8 attacks forcing Kido Butai to maneuver to avoid torpedos.

    If Yamaguchi had attacked commenced launching an attack at 0837, he would have had:
    Hiryu: 18 D31A Type 99 VAL VB
    Soryu: 18 D31A Type 99 VAL VB
    Akagi: 17 B4N2 Type 97 Kate VT (mixed armament: bombs or torpedoes
    Kaga: 26 B4N2 Type 97 Kate VT (mixed armament: bombs or torpedoes)
    with perhaps a dozen or more escorts

    We know what the IJN VB did to the Yorktown. Doubling the number of VB and including a well attended escort (undistracted by retiring SBDs) would almost certainly have had serious consequences for the USN CVs if they had found more than just the Yorktown. The Kates, carrying mixed ordnance might not have been able to mount their classic anvil attack and the accuracy problems inherent in high altitude drops against maneuvering targets might have spared the USN any fatal hits.

    Some additional considerations:

    Would the Midway Strike aircraft had sufficient fuel to be recovered considering the continuous attacks by USN Torpedo bombers or would they all have been lost, leaving only those a/c launched again the USN CVs and CAP?

    If recovered before the USN SBDs arrived, would they have been subject to refueling and rearming? In that event, the results of the historic battle may have played out historically with the loss of at least 2 or even 3 IJN CVs. If not, and the SBDs hit IJN CVs with empty hangars, the inflicted damage may not have been fatal although perhaps disabling for flight ops. The returning IJN strike against the USN may have suffered from insufficient flight decks to accommodate their numbers or perhaps their losses over the USN fleet would have compensated for the loss of operable flight decks. In any event, I suspect after the first round, the IJN may have been forced to retire due to aviation losses as would the USN, most likely. At least that's one possibility. Both sides would likely have been substantially bloodied, with perhaps fewer USN and some IJN CVs surviving.

    It is certainly an interesting what if scenario.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    USN had vastly superior intelligence thanks to Midway based PBYs. USA also had more total aircraft (including Midway Island) plus the benefit of a land based runway (i.e. cannot be sunk).

    The only Japanese strategy I would consider.....

    IJN bombardment force.
    4 x Kongo class BC.
    4 x CA Mogami class.
    4 x CA Myoko class.
    A DD flotilla for escort.
    These are all fast ships that can steam at 30+ knots.

    At dusk they are positioned 200 or 225 miles from Midway. Just outside strike range of everything except B-17s and PBYs. We will risk air attack from U.S. heavy bombers as they normally couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.

    IJN bombardment force steam towards Midway under cover of darkness at flank speed (30 knots?). It's essential they arrive before dawn. Immediately after arrival they bombard the runway and seaplane base to rubble.

    IJN BCs and CAs depart after expending all bombardment ammunition. We don't want these expensive ships exposed to a USN CV air strike.

    A half flotilla of IJN DDs remain in the vicinity of Midway to maintain harassment and interdiction fire on airfield and seaplane base. This makes it difficult for SeeBees to repair damage and make the airfield operational. USN could launch a CV air strike on these DDs. An unavoidable and worthwhile risk to keep Midway airfield inoperable.

    Without land based aircraft the USN no longer have a recon advantage and there are about 100 fewer American bombers to worry about (including torpedo armed PBYs). Now it is USN CV fleet vs IJN CV fleet.
     
  3. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    #3 VBF-13, Nov 30, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
    Compared to Dave's analysis, call this the Kindergarten version, but here goes.

    On this question, generally, they'd get the strike on our carriers they had planned for, earlier than they had planned for it. That's all I see, here, really. They were caught on their heels. Going on the offensive, it's conceivable they'd have inflicted some serious damage on, if not sunk, all three of our carriers.

    Here, we'd both be in the same spot, provided we struck concurrent with their strike. Nowhere for either side's planes to go after that. Had they, on the other hand, succeeded in putting us on the defensive, they might have creamed us, just as we had them. So much of how the cards fall in these battles depends on the timing.

    EDIT: Just as an afterthought, in my view, overall, it was going on the defensive that really sealed their fate. Had they immediately gone on the attack, with everything they had, it's conceivable that, at worst, they'd have traded their carriers for ours, and come out ahead for it.
     
  4. Francis marliere

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    As far as I remember Shattered Sword, the planes returning from the raid on Midway were low on fuel, and for many of them, damaged. They would have been lost to fuel exhaustion if the carriers had to launch a strike around 0830. This strike would not be very powerfull IMHO for several reasons. First, the fighter escort was, if my memory is good, not strongh enough. Only a few of the torpedo bombers had a torpedo : some of them had a 750 kg HE bomb - useless against ships - and some had neither bomb nor torpedo. The dive bombers had GP bombs that exploded on impact. While it could cause severe damage on the upperworks, it could not prenetrate deeply in a ship and cause the kind of massive damage that actually sink ships.
     
  5. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    What you appear to be implying is that they were ill-equipped to carry out their battle-plan had events unfolded as they had expected. I don't know that I'd be willing to go along with that.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That's to be expected when attacking a target defended by over 100 aircraft and a multitude of AA guns.

    IJN CV air wings were at only 75 or 80% of authorized strength even before the battle started. Bombing Midway first means Japanese CV airwings will probably be down to about 60% of authorized strength before the main event - fighting USN CVs. That's not a strategy for success.
     
  7. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #7 oldcrowcv63, Dec 4, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
    What both sides recognized (IJN's Yamaguchi and Fletcher/Spruance staff if not the admirals themselves) was that if a single bomb hit a carrier in the process of ordnance loading and/or fueling, the battle would be over for that flattop. Neither side wanted to be caught in that situation. Yes, the strike on USN carriers by IJN reserve units would be incorrectly armed for maximum damage and probably relatively lightly escorted. However, if (and only if), the IJN recovered whatever remained of the Midway strike aircraft that hadn't ditched and stowed them so they could eventually be serviced, while they awaited the imminent arrival of the USN strike, the damage inflicted by the SBDs may have been disabling but not fatal. The damage done to the IJN carriers may have rendered some of them unservicable for air ops but left them with power plants undamaged (as in the case of the Shokaku at Santa Cruz). These might have retreated Westward while the undamaged ones continued the attack if only to recover their strike aircraft launched against the USN carriers. Based on the results of the Hiryu strike on USN carriers, I'd expect at least one CV put out of action and more likely two. The Yorktown could still conduct strike ops a couple of hours after the VB attack and make 20 knots. I'd assume that damage to the second USN carrier might have been similarly disabling. With two USN CVs damaged, and perhaps three of the IJN CVs damaged, I'd expect both the IJN and USN to beat an early retreat. The primary concern on both sides was preservation of their high value assets (the CVs). I'd expect the IJN's canceling of the Midway operation to follow from LT. Tomonaga's departing observation that the damage inflicted on Midway's facilities was far from complete with the airfield still in operation. I am not saying the IJN couldn't have successfully invaded Midway with heavy gunfire support but considering Nagumo's track record, I'd expect him to beat feet. That's optimistic, I'd expect Yamaguchi would want to draw more blood and he'd launch a second wave if he had just one CV operational. He might then get one of the cripples or the undamaged one, disabling that as well. Whether the uSN could have mounted a fatal retaliatory attack on Hiryu is problematic with two carriers damaged. (Hornet/Mitscher botched follow up attack on Hiryu at least in part due to Browning if I understand correctly.)

    The post Midway situation would then have seen a significant portion of both sides CV's out of action for at least a few months. Let's say the Hornet, Sara and Wasp are undamaged, then the invasion of Guadalcanal proceeds pretty much on schedule but the subsequent cv battles that Fall are much more intensely fought when the damaged carrier's come back on line. That's just one possible what if scenario, I'd expect a good simulation might play out.
     
  8. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #8 oldcrowcv63, Dec 4, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
    Shattered Sword:

    Akagi: (18 VF, 18 VB, 18 VT), 6 VF assigned to Midway occupation force; total: 60/63; 95%
    Kaga: (18 VF, 18 VB, 27 VT), 9 VF 2 VB assigned to Midway occupation force; total: 74/72; 102%
    Hiryu: (18 VF, 18 VB, 18VT), 3 VF assigned to Midway occupation force; total: 57/63; 90%
    Soryu: (18 VF, 16 VB, 18 VT), 3 VF assigned to Midway occupation force 2 VB for recon; total: 57/63; 90%

    That's a total of: 93 VF, 74 VB, 81 VT

    Dave, based on Shattered Sword, which I believe is the most up to date (from IJN sources) tabulation of which I am aware, it looks like they were pretty close to an average of ~95% strength
    Lundstrum similarly cites:

    94 VF, 74 VB 81 VT.

    The standard air wing composition comes from a number of sources but all seem to agree that 54 A/C was a typical operational load with 9 spares for a total of 63, Kaga being the exception with an air group of 72 A/C.

    Pearl Harbor Air Group composition for comparison: from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_battle_of_the_Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

    Akagi: (27 VF, 18 VB, 27 VT), total: 72/63;
    Kaga: (27 VF, 27 VB, 27 VT), total: 81/72;
    Hiryu: (24 VF, 18 VB, 18VT), total: 60/63;
    Soryu: (27 VF, 18 VB, 18 VT), total: 63/63;

    This seems to correspond better to your tally percentages.

    In contrast is the Pacific War on line encyclopedia which is somewhat intermediate:

    http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/oob/jap_3.htm

    Akagi: (18 VF, 18 VB, 27 VT), total: 63/63;
    Kaga: (27 VF, 27 VB, 27 VT), total: 81/72;
    Hiryu: (25 VF, 18 VB, 18VT), total: 61/63;
    Soryu: (27 VF, 18 VB, 18 VT), total: 63/63;
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    That first sentence is a little misleading, Midway had 127 aircraft defending it, but only 28 of them were fighters. PBY's, B-17s, B-26s, etc. probably weren't much of a threat to the IJN airborne attack.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    PBYs were the most dangerous aircraft on Midway as they gave the USN an unbeatable recon advantage. If you know the location of major enemy fleet elements a day before he knows where you are the battle is half won before it even begins.
     
  11. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #11 tyrodtom, Dec 5, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
    Those PBY's were no threat to the aircraft attacking Midway though, as you suggested.

    The aircraft returning damaged from the attack on Midway were damaged by AA or the less than 30 fighters at Midway. The rest of the almost 100 aircraft did no damage to the aerial attackers.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I don't follow your logic.

    Information provided by PBYs allowed the USN and U.S. Army Air Corps to attack Japanese CVs. Having your floating airfield bombed is a huge threat to Japanese aircraft.
     
  13. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    As I didn't follow your logic when you stated the 100 aircraft and AA defending Midway was the reason the attacking Japanese aerial force was so chewed up, when in fact that attacking force was only engaged by Midway's AA and less than 30 fighters.
     
  14. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Dave, I think he was talking about the encounter with the Midway aircraft. The PBYs played a huge, primary role, as you noted, but not in that encounter.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to information from PBYs the Midway commander knew Kido Butai would probably attack the next day. Fighter and AA defenses had plenty of time to prepare for the Japanese attack.

    Would Midway defenses be as prepared if they had only radar warning of the attack?
     
  16. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Midway would not have had all the PBY's , AA's or time to prepare for the attacks if the codes hadn't been broken.
    Most of the PBY's, and extra AA had only been at Midway for a few weeks before the attack.

    No matter how much time you have to prepare, 21 Buffalos, and 7 Wildcats are not going to be able to put up much of a defense.
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    They will put up even less of a defense if caught on the ground because there wasn't enough warning time to have aircraft armed and fueled.
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Lol. who would be dumb enough to wait till the till they get radar contact and the siren sounds to arm and fuel their defending fighters ?

    Anyway that was less than 30 fighters against a attacking force of 72 Vals and Kates, escorted by 36 Zeros.
    Not hardly the overwhelming defensive advantage you're trying to depict dave.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    U.S. Army Air Corps during December 1941.
     
  20. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    No smokescreen you try put up is going to change the fact that you were wrong when you implied Midway was defended by 100 aircraft.
    Less than 30 were involved directly in the defense, about 30 in early warning or surveillance, and the rest were bombers of various sorts for operations against surface forces.
     
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