Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by corpcasselbury, Mar 5, 2005.
... and Saratoga.
I think what makes Midway an interesting one to mull over is the fact that it is one of those engagement which could have gone very differently. Press the rewind button and start again and the result could have been very different.
Just a thought
And an excellent one, too. Just as a "for instance", had the Japanese kept their wits about them and not panicked after the loss of the four carriers, they could still have taken Midway by ringing it with their surface ships and pounding the atoll into submission by sheer weight of metal. There were practically no American aircraft ashore to prevent this, while the American carrier groups had been decimated. But the Japanese didn't know that, and they did lose their heads and the battle.
Or alternatively the American dive bombers could have reached the Japanese carriers before rather than after the torpedo bombers. The Dauntless divebomber is remembered as the type that got butchered at midway.
Only if you think that the battle was really "about" seizing Midway which it wasn't. It was about forcing a decisive engagement.
Furthermore although the American carrier fleet had been damaged it could still put a significant number of planes in the air whereas the Japanese could not. Had those planes attacked the Japanese surface force which would have been without aircover..well we know what happens to surface forces without aircover.
Midway is definitely a case of having two objectives which are not mutually supporting. There's an old Japanese saying that applies here: "He who aims at two hares hits neither." Yamamoto would have done well to have remembered this.
THe Japanses fleet was very unluckey they diden't know the americans hade broken MAGIC so they sent 2 air craft carriers to alaska and then planned to destroy the intire american fleet there america hade three carrires Big E yorktown and um...... was it hornet? or wasp?
i forgot but the japanese simply destroyed the torpedo planes then SBD Devestaters came down and the zeros hade to climb but it was to late then BAM! 4 carriers going down only the york town was lost (becouse of sub) It was the turning point the japenese where on a down fall like a snow ball there loss's just got bigger and bigger they also could not replace them.
Wrong, Hiryu was sank a couple of days later, and it was the damage inflicted by the Japanese planes that enabled the submarine to find and finish off Yorktown after she'd been abandoned and reboarded.
Yeah, if it hadn't been for that sub, the US would likely have lost no ships at Midway. She did survive her success, too; her skipper was skilled and lucky.
Well, there seems to be some confusion over the designations of aircraft flown from the US carriers at the battle. The carrier-launched planes that first attacked the IJN carriers were the TBD Devastators; without fighter cover, they were easy pickings for the Zeros and virtually slaughtered (42 lost out of 45 launched). However, because the Zeros were drawn down from higher altitudes to attack the TBDs at sea level, the SBD Dauntlesses from Yorktown and Enterprise (those from Hornet never found the Japanese and hence didn't attack) were free to dive on Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu (Hiryu was hidden from view beneath clouds) unmolested by interceptors, with the historical results. The six TBF Avengers flown in the battle were assigned to VT-8 ("Torpedo Eight," based on Hornet) and had been flown from the US mainland in an attempt to catch up with Hornet, but just missed her when they finally reached Pearl Harbor. Instead, they were based on Midway during the battle, and from there launched an attack early the morning of 4 June. Only 1 returned to Midway, but despite its inauspicious combat debut, the Avenger went on to serve the Navy well during the war.
Actually the last wave of TBDs managed to maintain contact with there escorts and were supported by F4F Wildcats, of which one was shot down in the battle.
Simonr1978 - you are correct; I should've said that the TBDs were without "effective" fighter cover. In its attack, VT-3 was "covered" by 2 of the 6 F4Fs that were assigned to escort Yorktown's SBDs and TBDs. Try as they did to protect the TBDs, there just weren't enough Wildcats to save VT-3 from the hordes of Zeros.
Very true. It was no reflection on the Wildcat pilots that they couldn't perform their mission. No pilots could have under those circumstances.
In his (Osprey) book on the Devastator, Barrett Tillman has some interesting observations on the TBD. Of the total 130 built, there were only 178 TBD sorties in the first six months of the Pacific War that resulted in contact with Japanese forces. And nearly 1/4 of this "torpedo bomber's" missions were bombing missions. What I found most interesting is, up until the first day of the Battle of Midway, no TBDs had been lost in-flight due to enemy action. The TBD is the classic case of what happens when a suitable replacement isn't available yet, and ya gotta go with what ya have.
Very true. The TBD crews were very fortunate that they didn't meet any Japanese fighters prior to Midway.
I'm not so sure. There were Japanese fighters at Coral Sea, I'd be pretty confident unless anyone knows better that just as at Midway the Japanese Carriers would have maintained a CAP over their vessels.
The difference really as I understand it was that at Coral Sea (Ignoring the loss of the Lexington and damage to the Yorktown) for the US Carrier air groups pretty much everything went right. The squadrons (By this I mean VF/VT/VB/VS) went in together and supported one another just as they were supposed to.
The contrast to Midway is stark, the TBDs at Midway went in almost completely unsupported, the whole engagement at Midway was altogether a more piecemeal affair and really it was only luck (and sacrifice) that prevented Midway from being remembered as a disaster for the USN.
I agreed with you until this line:
While the disaster you mention certainly could have occurred I would not go so far as to predict that it would have occurred.
Mars did indeed smile upon the US forces in that battle however many things were done right aside from the lack of cordination on the initial torpedo squadron attacks on the Japanese carriers.
The US forces were not depending upon luck in the prepositioning of their forces nor in their judgemant as to what would be the target of the Japanese forces. As you are no doubt aware the Magic program that was decoding their naval code traffic played a large role in the US planning.
Dumb luck also will not accurately place bombs on carrier decks. The US pilots were not only willing to press home the attack despite fighter opposition and AAA but had the skills necessary to hit the target.
It must be noted, however, that the dive bombers didn't exactly dazzle anyone with their marksmanship, given the low number of recorded hits on the Japanese carriers. Had the SBDs not caught the Japanese carriers with their flight and hangar decks crowded with planes, fuel and ordnance, I believe that most of the Japanese carriers would have survived, if not all of them. The late Gordon W. Prange, in his excellent account "Miracle At Midway", holds the same opinion.
Perhaps Mr. Prange wished for the facts to conform to his theme i.e. a miracle at Midway.
I would consider it post hoc nit picking in the extreme to criticize the marksmanship of the airmen for a "low number of recorded hits". It seems that the number of hits were sufficient to reduce 4 capital ships to burning hulks and send them to the bottom. It's pointless to speculate whether they would have been destroyed with armed and fueled planes on deck, we will never know. I do know that on Soryu and Akaga it was reported that bombs penetrated the deck and exploded in lower decks as well.
What is wrong with 3 direct hits on Soryu with 1000 lb bombs, 4 direct hits on Kaga, at least 2 direct hits on Akagi and though I haven't found a number for Hiryu the ususal description is "pummeled with bombs?
No sir. I don't know what standard of marksmanship we are trying to hold these men to but I think that the results speak for themselves.