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Significance of the battle of Midway

Discussion in 'War in the Pacific' started by patryk8820, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. patryk8820

    patryk8820 Member

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    Even if Japanese had won the battle of Midway, would it have meant the ultimate defeat to the US? Americans had unbelievable industrial potential, and towards the end of the war they had many more aircraft carriers than the enemy.
    In the case of the Midway defeat, wouldn't they just be able amass the fleet close to the mainland and then perform a general offensive westwards? I'm just wondering if Midway tipped the scales in favor of America, or just precipitated the unavoidable Japanese loss?
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    There are two schools of thought here.

    One is that Japan's utter defeat was inevitable due to American Industry, which is true as far as it goes. Wars are fought by men and the effect upon them can not be discounted however many Carriers, Tanks and Planes you build.

    Japan's strategy was to make victory for America too costly to accept. It was the only card they had to play.

    A Japanese victory would have prolonged the war, made it more costly and possibly (from the Japanese perspective) presented the conditions they desired. A complete victory at Midway, capture of the Islands, destruction of two or more Carriers would pushed back the American timetable.

    The Historical result, loss of 4 Japanese Fleet Carriers, allowed the Guadalcanal operation to occur. A scenario as mentioned above would have prevented it, and by the time the US was prepared to land, Japanese defenses would have been closer to completion. This does not make it impossible, but considerably more costly.

    It is a fact that war fatigue was beginning to take its toll by late 1944. Two or three more Tarawa's might have been one too many.

     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    There are several threads, most of them several years old, that discuss the ability or inability of the Japanese to occupy significant US territories.

    The Japanese simply did not have the shipping to effect and support such an endeavor. They started the war at a shipping deficit, hoping to capture enough tonnage to support their economy. That did not materialize and they were never able to build enough transport to even begin to keep up with losses to US submarines.

    The Japanese did not have the manpower to conduct two major land wars against two larger countries (one of them having a pronounced economic advantage) on two large and widely seperated continents. Asia and North America are quite large and the size of the Pacific dwarfs North America. The Japanese have to fight either Chinese or Americans within their own borders. They cannot do both and they knew it at the time. Historyically, they were never able to defeat the Chinese, and China was just across a small sea from Japan, not a large ocean.

    The Japanese did not possess the naval capabilities to support fleet actions at such great distances for the length of time required.

    US naval construction outstripped the Japanese by a significan margin and was centered on the east coast. Forays to west coast by the Japanese would have little impact on the ability of the US to build the warships necessary to eventually defeat the Combined Fleet.

    At best, a Japanese victory at Midway extends the war into 1946 or 47, depending on how quickly the US can capture airfields within range of the B-29s and their atomic payload after July, 1945.
     
  4. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Have to agree with belesar, He put it in the best simple term's with out going into to much detail as simply that just leaves the door open for pointless argument's that really have no proof as it would be all theory.

    Yes it may allow the Japanese to secure there positions prolonging the war, But also could lead to US strategy change focusing entirely on the Central Pacific which could speed up or slow down there advance allowing for the war to either finish on time or to be prolonged for months or years more then it historically was.

    Other then that I wouldn't read to much further into it unless people are willing to put points down for both views.
     
  5. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The landing at Wake actually was beaten the second time, its just that Major Devereaux thought mistakenly they were over running the island. THe Japanese had a very limited system for landing troops and with Midway prepared it likely would have been a defeat.
     
  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    I agree. Ironically that might have been the best outcome for the Japanese - sink 2-3 of our carriers and not get saddled with an isolated garrison to try to sustain.
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    Beginning late 1943, the US was going to add a fleet carrier every month to the fray. Even if we only have three carriers in operation up to middle 1943 (Saratoga, Wasp, possibly the Enterprise), the USN was going to grow to dimensions that the IJN would find impossible to stop.

    The outcome of a hypothetical loss of Midway would mean a US counter invasion of Midway towards the latter part of 1942, which in the end would be successful. After that, its anyone's guess to how the NG and Solomon islands would be fought.

    I suspect that even with an early 1944 invasion of the Gilberts, progressing to the Marshalls and Carolines, there is not one single thing the Japanese could do to stop things. Not only is the USN growing ever larger by the month, its getting qualitatively better. And we haven't even factored in AAF units. It's quite possible that the USN axis of advance will take supremacy over MacArthur's plans and that alone would mean the war ending pretty much as it did, probably in Sept or Oct 1945.
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Correct,

    For the most part, the "Midway prolongs the war" crowd forget that the Central Pacific Campaign didn't begin until late 1943 with Operation Galvanic. At this point the Americans brought in 4 Essex class, the Enterprise, Saratoga, and 5 Independence class CVLs. Rounding out the 11 "fast carriers" were and additional 8 CVEs. As such, any delay will be only to MacArthur in Australia, as he will likely have to wait to begin his Solomons Campaign.

    On the other hand, without the Solomons "meat grinder", the IJNAF will likely be in much better shape than it was historically, but then again so will the Americans. Although with only one major Pacific offensive going on, there will probably be more combat in the Central Pacific until MacArthur can get going in the Southwest Pacific.
     
  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    "Try" is correct.

    A normal course of action for the Japanese was often to dump a garrison on an island and instruct them to forage for food. Midway did not even have potable water.

    The amount of shipping needed to supply even a meager force would far outweigh the value of holding the island, given the distances between Midway and Japanese home ports. It is roughly the same distance from Tokyo to Midway as is it from Tokyo to Indonesia, where oil and other strategic materials needed to sustain the war effort were located. Shipping to the south at least had the advantage of making double use of the transports by carrying raw material north and finished products back south. Sailing east to Midway would take ships out of the loop and decrease the already inadequate shipping fleet that furnished the factories in Japan.

    One other thing-sailing east would bring Japanese transports closer to the home port of the US submarine fleet at Pearl Harbor, a fleet that historically all but destroyed the Japanese merchant fleet by itself. Essentially they would be putting the transports even deeper into the mouth of the lion.
     
  10. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    The sub force would accomplish nothing until they solved the torpedo and personnel problems.
     
  11. SymphonicPoet

    SymphonicPoet Member

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    I'm not even quite sure I can envision what Japan would do with Midway, unless it was used as a stepping stone for a serious threat to Hawaii, which is a whole stinking kettle of rotten fish (fish sauce?) that Japan doesn't really want to open. (For the record, I actually like fish sauce.) Capturing Hawaii would solve some of Midway's supply problems and create a genuine logistical challenge for the USN, but holding it, supplying it with industrial materials, and pacifying it would conceivably be quite difficult, even after you round up all the European types and ship them back to the mainland. (Not quite sure which mainland.) And it would be a much larger and more complicated amphibious operation than any Japan ever attempted.

    In reality, I think there's absolutely nothing useful Japan could do with islands that far east. Sinking U.S. carriers is quite useful, but that can be done near the Solomons or in the Central Pacific as easily (more easily, given the potential for land based local air control) as near Midway. So yes, sinking 2-3 carriers and then getting repulsed in the amphibious assault phase is probably the best outcome for Japan. Even better is to simply not go there. Stage a second Pearl Harbor raid if you really want to risk your fleet. Better yet, just retrench and figure out how to make your supply lines work. Sooner or later the US Navy will surely come knocking whether you ask them to or not.
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    That is essentially the problem with the Japanese strategy for conducting the war...They didn't have one. After their quick victories at the opening of the war, but with no Allied peace offering forthcoming, they were at a loss as to what to do. Hence, they begin casting about for things to do, with no sense of definite purpose. It also didn't help matters that there was no consensus amongst the Japanese military as what to do; the Army wanted to go one way, the Navy wanted to go another, and Yamamoto/the Combined Fleet wanted to go a third direction.
     
  13. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    there were successes in torpedo attacks but not as much as when the problem was solved
     

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