In the historical battle, most of the Island's defensive fighters were Marine F2A Buffalos. The USN had no fighter units present, these being on the carriers. The F2As were initially successful as their fighter controllers used radar to allow them to bounce the first incoming wave. The Japanese lost a number of dive bombers and special attack planes in the Marine's first pass. After that, the Marines were hammered by the escort. The Japanese bombing was marginally effective. It destroyed few aircraft and did not render the airfield inoperable. The Japanese strike commanders recommended a second strike (hence the land bombs / torpedo issue). With no carriers, the US could have brought in several squadrons of F4F fighters manned by Navy pilots. If the US put up say, just 20 F4F (less than two carriers at Santa Cruz or Eastern Solomons) they would have likely shot down 50 to 70% of the strike leaving the Japanese in a real dilemmia. Now, the Kido Butai is facing a "Coral Sea" situation. They can launch a second strike and likely suffer more heavy losses (a likely course of action) but then have little left to support the landings or, they can close on Midway and try and cover the landings themselves. The Japanese were planning on landing a reinforced regiment initially. It would have been slaughtered in the attempt. A second wave might have been attempted but it too almost certainly would have failed. The problem at Midway is with or without carriers the Japanese were attempting to land an inadequite force with inadequite support in an inadequite manner using inadequite equipment. One need only look at other opposed Japanese landings early in WW 2 to see the truth in this. The Japanese have no way to keep their carriers on station off Guadalcanal. The best one can give them is that when the US shows up and lands they put their carriers to sea to attack the US landing force. Given the original conditions, the US is going to get ashore in huge numbers. Once that happens all they have to do is keep the airfield operational and the Japanese eventually lose. The US can fly in aircraft via Espiritu Santo as available. If the USAAF makes even just a bit more effort to put P-38s there the Japanese are finished. Not necessarily. The worst case large vessels, battleships, at Pearl took about two years to raise and refirbish. Cruisers, similiar to carriers in complexity, took less than six months. The Helena is a good example. She fought in the Guadalcanal campaign after being torpedoed at Pearl.