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Pearl Harbor vs. open seas

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by sPzAbt 503, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. JohnFrank

    JohnFrank Member

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    If the IJN had caught the Pac Fleet at sea, I believe that the Pac Fleet would have lost and had been forced to retreat. The IJN had too many technical advantages and there would not have been a one and done attack but multiple attacks. As at Pearl Harbor, the IJN would have attacked the Pac Fleet carriers first. With an advantage of 6 to 3, the IJN would have probably sunk the 3 American carriers or had forced them to withdraw at which time the surface forces would have been unprotected.In December of '41, the Pac Fleet Battleline had very little AA capability. After the 1930's reconstructions, any one of the Pac Fleet Battleships could not count on more than 10-15 5in. and 3 in. combined in upper deck mounts which afforded reasonable arcs of fire. The ammo was not proximity fuse but manually fused and the ships were slow. it would have been a slow retreat under concentrated air attack. I would have to bet on the IJN.
     
  2. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    I personally think that a Midway or Wake Gambit would have been a perfect start to draw out the fleet at the start.
     
  3. JohnFrank

    JohnFrank Member

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    I think that Midway would have been the better choice. Wake was to far away to threaten Hawaii, but a Midway to Hawaii airstrike was doable by the Betty bomber. The Pac Fleet would have to respond to a Japanese assault on Midway.
     
  4. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The big issue for Yamamoto was getting the BB's out so I wonder what it would take for Kimmel to send the whole fleet.
     
  5. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Though Kimmel did send a TF to respond to Wake so he was willing
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The task forces to Wake and Midway before Dec. 7th did not include an BBs. They were intended solely to get fighters to those islands and then the forces were to withdraw. Enterprise completed her mission, Lexington did not.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I think that steverodgers801 is referring to the aborted attempt to relieve Wake Island which used the USS Saratoga, seaplane tender USS Tangier, three heavy cruisers, and 10 destroyers as the main relief effort, and the USS Lexington and her task force which were to conduct a diversionary strike against Japanese holdings in the Gilberts Islands.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    An ad hoc and hasty effort that wasn't given much chance of succeeding. I discounted that one from the start, sorry I didn't state such in my earlier post.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The Midway or Wake gambit triggered a thought which would also pertain to the historical battle of Midway. On that occasion the Japanese planned to capture the island, and hopefully even have their own aircraft using it, before the American fleet arrived in strength. But, once the island is lost, the urgent need to come to its relief is also gone. No doubt the Americans would want to attack the island at some point, but they don't need to rush in immediately, certainly not while the main force of the IJN is there waiting for them. The ideal "gambit" would be to place the island under credible threat, conduct pre-invasion bombing and bombardment and other preparations (which incidentally will make the landing more likely to succeed when it does happen), and try to compel the Americans to attempt to rescue their beleagured garrison.

    Wake and the approaches thereto are within range of land-based air from the Marshalls and could be besieged without revealing that major carrier forces were in the area. Ironically the failure of the first assault led the Americans to send the force steve mentioned. The revelation that some number of Japanese carriers were in the area contributed to the decision to break off the attempt. The Japanese were simply trying to capture the island, not use it to lure American forces into reach, but there might have been an opportunity to catch at least the Saratoga force.

    Can anyone verify whether a Midway to Hawaii airstrike was doable by the Betty bomber? This, or the reverse, is frequently mentioned; but the distance from Midway to Oahu (Honolulu airport) is IIRC 1136 nautical miles, which I believe is beyond the bombing radius of most aircraft of the era.
     
  10. JohnFrank

    JohnFrank Member

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    According to Wikipedia the range of the early G4 Betty's was somewhere around 3200-3700 miles one way depending on bomb load. No American bomber could make the round trip.
     
  11. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    It seems possible but it's a moot point. Something that is also often mentioned is that Midway was too small to be of much use as an offensive base and last but not least we need to remember how well escorted Bettys did against the improvised air defences of Guadalcanal. Not very well at all. Here they'd be alone and up against islands with hundreds of fighters and a chain of radar stations.
     
  12. JohnFrank

    JohnFrank Member

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    It seems possible but it's a moot point. Something that is also often mentioned is that Midway was too small to be of much use as an offensive base and last but not least we need to remember how well escorted Bettys did against the improvised air defences of Guadalcanal. Not very well at all. Here they'd be alone and up against islands with hundreds of fighters and a chain of radar stations.

    If they attacked during the day, you have a point. But, if they attacked at night, the radar stations would still see them coming but the Hawaiian defense forces didn't have a night fighting capability during the early stages of the war. The only defense would be flak and searchlights. Also, remember that Hawaii's civilian population required a steady supply of material transported from the West Coast. The Port of Hawaii was just down the coast from Pearl. The Betty attacks wouldn't need to destroy much of either before the Pac Fleet would have to do something about Midway. Midway was big enough to stage attacks from. How many planes did the Pac Fleet stuff the base with prior to the Battle of Midway? Could the IJN keep the base supplied is another matter.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Six heavy cruisers and a dozen destroyers doing a midnight raid on Midway would have made the place unusable.
     
  14. JohnFrank

    JohnFrank Member

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    Six heavy cruisers and a dozen destroyers doing a midnight raid on Midway would have made the place unusable.

    You're right, but first you would have to get there. The Japanese would certainly have recon patrolling several hundred miles out of Midway. You may attack at midnight but how many daylight hours is your force going to have to survive. You didn't say anything about carrier air cover so your force would be going in naked against an airbase stocked with offensive forces that could reach out and touch you days before your force ever got within range and then they have to retreat under the threat of constant air attack for days. I think you need another plan.
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I was referring to the Bombardment Unit, part of a larger whole. They gamed this out at Newport one year. Fun reading.
     
  16. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Does he? One of the first USN raids after PH included cruisers bombarding a Japanese outpost a few hours after sunrise. The cruisers were part of a larger force that included carriers but they had no actual air support as the planes were needed to attack other islands in the area.


    Furthermore while PH has a limited night defence capability, the Japanese have a limited night attack capability as well. Bettys had a long range but a limited payload at such ranges. They attacked GC loaded with one 550lb bomb and four(?) 110lb bombs. That's not going to do much damage even if they hit what they aim at in the first place. Note that at the same time the RAF's Bomber Command was still having trouble hitting a city size target. And they had only 300 miles to their targets.
     
  17. JohnFrank

    JohnFrank Member

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    One of the first USN raids after PH included cruisers bombarding a Japanese outpost a few hours after sunrise. The cruisers were part of a larger force that included carriers but they had no actual air support as the planes were needed to attack other islands in the area.

    When the cruisers retired to the task force they were under the cap umbrella provided by the carriers. The Hypothetical attack against Midway would not have that option. What raid was that?

    Furthermore while PH has a limited night defence capability, the Japanese have a limited night attack capability as well. Bettys had a long range but a limited payload at such ranges. They attacked GC loaded with one 550lb bomb and four(?) 110lb bombs. That's not going to do much damage even if they hit what they aim at in the first place.

    The idea is to force the Pac Fleet out and into a knock down drag out fight. The IJN does not have to crater PH just jab it with a stick. The Pac Fleet has to respond and the only way would be to bring the carriers forward.
     
  18. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    This one: Marshalls
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    When the cruisers retired to the task force they were under the cap umbrella provided by the carriers. The Hypothetical attack against Midway would not have that option. What raid was that?

    That was Halsey's attack on the Marshalls in early 1942. Very gutsy operation; he had his cruisers and a few destroyers attack the nearest islands, Wotje and Maloelap IIRC, while Enterprise's planes hit Kwajalein and others further away. He also had twelve of his eighteen F4Fs attack a couple of airfields, strafing and 100-pounders, they took off after the bombers, zipped to their targets and back, and refueled for CAP. Enterprise herself actually operated within sight of one of the islands, staying close to get the most sorties on target. The scheme used all available offensive firepower to knock down the opposition up front. A number of Japanese bombers did manage to attack, but Halsey got away with one light hit on the heavy cruiser Chester and minor damage to Enterprise when a damaged bomber tried a suicide crash - this was the incident when he sliced off the tail of an SBD on deck from which a crewman was firing the twin .30s.

    Another force based on Yorktown hit the Gilberts and southern Marshalls.

    They ran in at night of course, but at nightfall the previous day they would have been well within range of Japanese reconnaissance aircraft. It's tempting to say that if planes can fly say 700 miles, that means everything within 700 miles will be detected. When you consider how many planes can fly on a daily basis, there's still a lot of ocean to cover.
     
  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Why would the Bombardment Unit not have air cover, please? And making the run in just after dark, and back away by midnight would put them at some distance from the island, requiring they be found first, by dawn. Every hour they're not found makes the avenging air attackers job more difficult.
     

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