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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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    I expect Midway's airfield was about at capacity for the June battle; for example we had eighteen new Avengers of Torpedo 8 detachment on Oahu but only deployed six to Midway. At that point there were about sixty single-engine aircraft, four B-26s, and nineteen B-17s.

    Using the same numbers and substituting Betty's for the B-26's and B-17's, what was the recon range out of Midway? I would use some of the Betty's for distant recon and single engine for 2nd level recon. The Betty's range would enable it to patrol to Hawaii and beyond it if they wanted too.

    As far as sub's interdicting supplies, we're are talking about the effectiveness of the subs in December of '41 not December of '43. Look at the effectiveness of the subs on guard duty at Wake Island. They might as well have been tied up at dock in Pearl for all the good that they did.

    Say they get within 400 miles two hours before dark.

    I'm guessing here but I assume dark is around 7pm local time and favorable conditions to launch recon is at first light or around 5am local. That means that your ships have to sail undetected into double layer recon for about twelve hours. Where would your ships be at 5am? You have to use a zigzag pattern on your approach and at what speed of advance?
     
  2. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    as far as the subs, that was a one time shot verses long term.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If I were sending the raid in I'd commence the run in (from 400nm out) at around 4pm. The odds on being detected prior to that would be pretty low and even if detected the odds on a raid getting to the ships would be pretty low. This would mean that they arrive off Midway around 4am and commence bombardment of the runway, hangers, and support facilitities. Given the small size of Midway, the familiarity of the USN with the Island, and the lack of topography the bombardment group should be able to at worse neutralise the Midway air group. A few planes might be able to get off the ground that afternoon (or not) but not enough to launch any sort of major effective strike on the bombardment group.

    If a storm front is in the area it can be even eaiser for the ships.
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Here's a handy rule of thumb - at 100 miles (or any units), a 1 degree arc is approximately 1.75 miles (units) wide.

    That is to say, if search aircraft are flying 10 degree sectors, when they are 100 miles out they will be 17.5 miles apart. At 400 miles they would be 70 miles apart, at 700, 122.5 miles apart (7 x 10 x 1.75). This gives an idea how thorough coverage is likely to be over various distances.

    Most likely, search planes would fly a dogleg - half the distance between them - so as to fly home over the area they didn't cover on the way out. So in the above example, the interval between search lines would be approximately 61 miles at 700 miles from base, decreasing to 35 at 400 miles out, etc.
     
  5. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    What was the fuel capacity for avgas on Midway? I've only found a couple refrences on this, and none mention if they held diesel for subs or avgas. Could Japan even use Midway as a means of attacking Hawaii without running dry on fuel before a convoy could make the trip?.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The question then becomes how often do you fly these? You also aren't going to want to fly 700 miles east of Midway on any sort of regular basis.
     
  7. OpanaPointer

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

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    Reconnaissance planes general fair poorly against fighters. I think the number of flights would be limited as much by attrition as wear-and-tear.
     
  8. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Question did Midway have the capacity to carry enough aircraft for a 360 recon? It seems that Japan might get trapped in thinking the approach would have to be from the SE. Plus how easy can Japan fly in replacements. Due to the size of Midway and the need for recon aircraft could Japan sustain more a couple of combat flights?
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    mikebatzel,

    The information you are looking for can be found in the June 7, 1942, MAG-22 Executive Officer's Report of the Battle of Midway found here: http://www.midway42.org/aa-reports/mag22xo.pdf

    Midway had a main underground storage tank of 100,000 gallons, with an additional underground reserve tank of 51,000 gallons, as well as, an emergency supply of 250 * 55-gallon drums. There were two 1,200 gasoline tanker trucks and a transfer barge of 15,000 gallons.

    Normal air operations of Midway Island consumed 6,500 gallons. However, with the build-up of aircraft prior to the battle, the average daily consumption(VP-44 sector search of 11 aircraft, B-17 mission of 6-10 aircraft, patrol by MAG-22) of avgas increased to about 20,000-25,000 gallons a day. Finally, on a very busy day, May 31, 1942, this spiraled up to an estimated 65,000 gallons - a sector search by 11 VP-44 aircraft, 9 B-17s arriving from Oahu, 14 B-17s out on a search-and-attack mission(1300hrs - takeoff and aircraft return between 2100-0350hrs), and routine patrol by MAG-22 aircraft.


    From reading this report, one gets the idea that it would be next to impossible for Japan to carry out a major extended aerial bombing campaign against Oahu without a near daily influx of aviation gasoline.
     
    CTBurke, lwd and mikebatzel like this.
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    steverodgers801,

    If Pearl Harbor did not have the capacity to perform a 360 degree search, I don't see how Midway Island ever could.

    Given the distance from Japan, it would be quite a feat to ferry in replacement aircraft, but not impossible - given a Marshalls to Wake I to Midway I air route. However, their is no major Japanese air base such as Rabaul to serve as a major overhaul/refurbishment point any where in the vicinity of Midway. So, that sort of work would have to be performed either at Wake(very unlikely) or in the Marshalls(difficult at best - without some kind of major construction work & a reliable supply route).

    There is also the option of using Midway as a staging air base and flying bombers in from more distant, but more secure Wake Island, but that presents it's own set of problems for the Japanese - namely through attrition(more hours airborne) and the physical toll all that time in the air would take on the pilots.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

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

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    Off the top of my head I think the Martin-Bellinger Report broke down the daily requirements for a 360 search around Oahu, so Takao's data matched to that information should parse out the issue nicely. (If it's not in the M-BR it's in another part of the Hearing, I'd have to dig to find it.)
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I would think it unlikely that the Japanese capture the island with the fuel storage intact as well. How long would it take them to rebuild the tanks? A bunch of 50 gallong drums just sitting around doesn't seam the safest thing to me.
    Midway order of battle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    lists quite a few tankers with the historical Midway force but only one allocated to the occupation force. Ironically the only Japanese ship torpedoed by a US aircarft during the battle.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

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

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    One Ensign was recommended for the Medal of Honor for activating the fire-suppression sprinklers on the tanks in the face of enemy fire. I'm pretty sure another person would have been recommended for blowing them if there was invasion that threatened to capture them.
     
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Question did Midway have the capacity to carry enough aircraft for a 360 recon?

    You also have to decide how far out you want to search, make an assumption about sighting distance from aircraft, and decide what level of certainty you want; then it's just doing the math.

    For example, if you want complete coverage out to 700 miles, that's a circumference of 4398 miles. Let's say our aircraft have a reasonable chance of spotting enemy ships up to 20 miles to each side. Each plane will fly out 700 miles, dogleg 40 miles, and fly back over water it did not cover on the way out. We can get complete coverage with a "mere" 55 planes flying every day.

    Let's say you only want to fly 30 planes per day. Counting both outbound and inbound legs, you'll have complete coverage out to 382 miles, then a series of 40-mile swaths radiating outward with narrow wedges of unsearched water between them. At the 600 mile circle you'll be covering about 63%. You get a little bonus at 700 miles when the planes make their dogleg; they'll cover about 75% of the perimeter. Overall you'll have searched about 72% of the water outside 382 miles.

    Of course you can't fly every plane every day. As Takao shows us, on a daily basis Midway was flying 11 of 31 PBYs and 6-10 of 19 B-17s, and this was with a heightened state of alert.

    p.s. we're still waiting for any example of G4Ms bombing over a distance comparable to Midway-Oahu, 1136nm.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It's also worth pointing out that one plane flying the sector once a day doesn't give you complete coverage either. If the out bound flight takes say ~5 hours and the while the is on its way back say hour 6 ships enter the search pattern it will never see them or if they are say travelling at 20 knots it will pick them up a couple of hours into it's flight the next day. If they are traveling at anything much over 30 knots then they'll be at Midway before it takes off again. Weather and navigational errors can also have considerable impact.
     
  16. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Commenting on the original post. IMHO, the IJN would have come out on top of that engagement.

    They would have had all their aircraft to concentrate on the US battle group. Not divided up between Pearl Harbor, Wheeler, Schofield, Bellows, Ewa, etc.

    Some of their pilots had experience in China, whereas US pilots would have been all rookies (so to speak) in combat. I do agree that the US pilots would instinctively get into dogfights with the Zero's, and the outcome would not be a happy one.

    I think the US ship commanders would be surprised by the speed of the Kates, as they were used to TBD slow lumbering pace. As such, their torpedo avoidance might not be well done, especially with the OBB's.

    That the Japanese pilots in the second wave commented on how "heavy" the ack was, should be attributed to the fact that they had probably NEVER been on the receiving end of AA, outside of a little bit in China.

    If the US were able to bring the Enterprise, Sara, and Lex into the battle, it's possibly things might be slightly different, but I don't think the overall results would change. We'd have probably lost a carrier or two right off, that weren't lost before.
     
  17. JohnFrank

    JohnFrank Member

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    Yamamoto's bold idea was to hit PH in order to neutralize the Pac Fleet and to keep them out of his hair during his operations in the Phillipines and the DEI. He missed the carriers but his Midway operation was a second chance to force the American carriers out. Overlooked in his Midway plan was his subplan to not only take Midway but to build and maintain a forward base there. Barely 5 months after PH, Yamamoto has accumulated the ground forces and the support ships, several oilers in particular, to mount the operation. I wonder what would have happened if he had invaded Wake and Midway during the PH operation. Midway was probably weaker than Wake in December of '41.
    As far as aerial recon goes,it looks like Yamamoto felt that he could mount a successful recon program coupled with recon out of Wake. The arc that Midway would need to cover shrinks from a 360 arc to say a 200 degree arc with some overlap of the two. He would probably have used the
    Aichi E13A since it was used to scout at PH. So, if he only needs to cover 200 degrees and not 360 degress, how many planes does he need and how does that number compare with what he was bringing. As far as an example of a Betty flying an attack mission of the range of Midway to Pearl, it probably never happened in the war. But, then again, PH was supposed to be a safe harbor and look what happened when push came to shove.
    Aichi E13A - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Battle of Midway: 4-7 June 1942
    Transport Group
    Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka, Commander Destroyer Squadron 2
    in Jintsu (Light Cruiser)
    12 transports and freighters carrying "Kure" and "Yokosuka" 5TH Special Naval Landing Forces (S.N.L.F.) and Army Ichiki detachment; two construction battalions; "survey group", weather group, etc.; about 5,000 officers and men.

    - Two of the freighters were filled with US construction equipment and weapons captured at Wake Island

    Seaplane Group
    Carrier Division 11 - Rear Admiral Ruitaro FujitaSeaplane Carriers

    Chitose - 20 observation seaplanes

    Kamikawa Maru - 8 observation seaplanes
    Carrying seaplane group to be set up at Kure Island.

    Minesweeping GroupConverted Minesweepers

    Tama Maru No. 3
    Tama Maru No. 5
    Showa Maru No. 7
    Showa Maru No. 8

    Submarine Chasers

    No. 16
    No. 17
    No. 18

    Supply Ship

    Soya

    Cargo Ships

    Meiyo Maru
    Yamafuku Maru

    note - This Group, proceeding from Saipan and Wake, retired upon receiving word that the occupation of Midway had been given up.




     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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  19. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    part of my point was could Japan have enough recon and room for fighters and bombers?
     
  20. JohnFrank

    JohnFrank Member

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    The Wikipedia article says that the seaplane contingent was to be established on Kure Atoll some 50 miles from Midway. I don't know if the IJN could have stationed enough planes at Midway to hold it, but I would bet they could have stationed enough planes there to make the retaking of Midway a priority of the Pac Fleet.
     

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