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Midways defenses were pretty beefed up so I think a successful invasion was by no means a certainty, and Japan would have had trouble holding it given supply lines etc. of course it was all about the carriers, not midway, but refusing battle would have been a perfectly justifiable position.

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Could somebody sum up the major ways in which "Shattered Sword" supposedly shed new light on the course of the battle? I could never really figure it out, although maybe it was because I only started reading seriously about Midway after the book came out?

 

Classical view of the battle was one in which the outnumbered Americans, by luck or divine wisdom, defeat the Japanese and avoid a decisive thrust up the middle of the Pacific.

 

"Shattered Sword" shows a more nuanced view, where, after bean counting, the Americans had about parity in the relevant asset, aircraft, where assisted by superior intelligence and caught the IJN by surprise.

 

Other findings showed that the torpedo planes sacrifice was useless as Japanese CAP cycles pretty much ensured that the dive bombers wouldn't be oposed and disaster was inevitable once they found the Japanese. That IJN poor damage control was as much to blame as the bombs for the losses. That having Yamamoto on a flagship that couldn't use its radio because surprise was singularly stupid.

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Midways defenses were pretty beefed up so I think a successful invasion was by no means a certainty, and Japan would have had trouble holding it given supply lines etc. of course it was all about the carriers, not midway, but refusing battle would have been a perfectly justifiable position.

 

Giving up Midway and the using it as a kind of target to use for practice would have suited the US too.

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The no-battle option certainly would have been frustrating to the IJN, based on the fuel expenditure alone.

 

If there was a USN intelligence officer in the room who recommended it, there is no record of it as far as I am aware.

 

Midway in Japanese hands would have been an albatross in various ways.

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The gist of the Pacific War was that no matter what Japan did, it couldn't do enough damage to stop the US eventually overwhelming it. Going out on a limb for an isolated atoll in ths hope that the USN will play the role desired in Japan's plan was wishful thinking.

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Most of my knowledge about Midway came from Incredible Victory by Walter Lord and Morrison's history.

If anything could be called 'inspired', I think it would be the 'water ruse', that proved Midway was the Japanese objective. Had the US Navy not fought, Midway atoll would have been a roach stomp for the Japanese, given their heavy battle line being available for bombardment, and the morale damage would be disastrous for the US. How that would have affected prosecution of the war is anyone's guess, but it's not hard to imagine some sort of movement for a negotiated settlement with Japan--which was their goal, after all.

What might the war have progressed if the Japanese had sunk the American carriers?

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Shattered Sword (just rereading it) made a pretty good case that Midway's defenses would be a tough nut to crack -- something like 3500 Marines, substantial artillery and AA, Japanese amphibious doctrine was pretty weak (troops disembarking from barges etc.) and not much of a history of naval gunfire support. Not sure I'm entirely convinced -- like you said, the IJN had lots and lots of guns... the authors' best guess was that the Japanese would probably wreck Midway but have a really hard time actually conquering it.

 

One interesting point the book raised was that Japanese aircrew losses from Midway weren't especially terrible; 72 from Hiryu, 21 from Kaga, 10 from Soryu and 7 from Akagi. They suffered similar losses at Battle of the Eastern Solomons and 24 more than that at Battle of Santa Cruz. Overall, the authors argue that the real turning point wasn't Midway but rather the attrition battles in the Guadalcanal Campaign, which I find pretty convincing.

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Even if the USN had lost all three carriers at Midway, how would it explain the need to quit the war with so many CVs CVLs and CVEs already ordered and on the building ways? The Two-Ocean Navy was a given by 1943, and the Germans and Italians were no-shows by then. The IJN would get its desired decisive battles, and then some.

 

Naval aviators were coming out of the Pensacola system by the thousands, whereas the IJN produced a trickle of replacements and had no fuel for training more by 1944.

 

As Ned Willmott originally advanced, the IJN lost WWII on 7 Dec 41.

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Even if the USN had lost all three carriers at Midway, how would it explain the need to quit the war with so many CVs CVLs and CVEs already ordered and on the building ways? The Two-Ocean Navy was a given by 1943, and the Germans and Italians were no-shows by then. The IJN would get its desired decisive battles, and then some.

 

Naval aviators were coming out of the Pensacola system by the thousands, whereas the IJN produced a trickle of replacements and had no fuel for training more by 1944.

 

As Ned Willmott originally advanced, the IJN lost WWII on 7 Dec 41.

The victory at Midway enabled the US to take a greater offensive. If it was a draw or defeat, the offensive would be delayed or weakened.

 

The lose of three carriers instead of one would also mean the loss of more experienced pilots than had occured. And then on the other side, if none of the 4 were lost, it would also mean fewer loss of experienced pilots. By 1944, Hellcats and better radar were introduced but the ratio of experienced pilots and carriers would not. If the Battle of the Philippines Sea was played out again, more experienced Japanese pilots would nagate the fuel shortage for training and would improve damage dealt. There wouldn't have been a Turkey shoot. Likely another draw or perhaps better success on the raids against US carriers.

 

So then the question comes, how important was CKS to US interests? US wasn't fighting for its surival.

Edited by JasonJ
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The seeds of that defeat were planted at the Washington Naval Conference 20 years earlier with the termination of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, much to the satisfaction of the United States.

Naval treaty benefit was pretty much removed by the PH attack.

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Could somebody sum up the major ways in which "Shattered Sword" supposedly shed new light on the course of the battle? I could never really figure it out, although maybe it was because I only started reading seriously about Midway after the book came out?

 

Classical view of the battle was one in which the outnumbered Americans, by luck or divine wisdom, defeat the Japanese and avoid a decisive thrust up the middle of the Pacific.

 

"Shattered Sword" shows a more nuanced view, where, after bean counting, the Americans had about parity in the relevant asset, aircraft, where assisted by superior intelligence and caught the IJN by surprise.

 

Other findings showed that the torpedo planes sacrifice was useless as Japanese CAP cycles pretty much ensured that the dive bombers wouldn't be oposed and disaster was inevitable once they found the Japanese. That IJN poor damage control was as much to blame as the bombs for the losses. That having Yamamoto on a flagship that couldn't use its radio because surprise was singularly stupid.

 

That's what I found most interesting in the book. I grew up on the stories of how the desperately outnumbered Americans won by cunning, code breaking, bravery, sacrifice and luck at a level that indicated God was assisting us. The book blew up most of those simplistic ideas which I appreciated, even if the loss of Torpedo 8 wasn't an act of great sacrificial significance.

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Agree regarding the book's accounting of IJNAF aircrew losses, which were a revelation.

 

The IJN was essentially considering 3 options that summer. Had Yamamoto's preference not been chosen, the Indian Ocean and the RN may have been.

 

The irony was the search for decisive battle in 1942, as it had already been lost politically 20 years earlier.

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Had the Washington Treaty not been signed, Japan would have had perhaps six more capital ships and the USN ten. The pre war carriers on both sides might have been a few thousand tons larger and there might have been two or three more each.

 

Japan was going to be destroyed in about the same time as they did in real life no matter what unless the US did nothing- and there was no realistic chance of that.

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Had the Washington Treaty not been signed, Japan would have had perhaps six more capital ships and the USN ten. The pre war carriers on both sides might have been a few thousand tons larger and there might have been two or three more each.

Japan was going to be destroyed in about the same time as they did in real life no matter what unless the US did nothing- and there was no realistic chance of that.

That is the same kind of over confidence that made some think PH was not vulnerable. Inflexible.

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Had the Washington Treaty not been signed, Japan would have had perhaps six more capital ships and the USN ten. The pre war carriers on both sides might have been a few thousand tons larger and there might have been two or three more each.

 

True regarding the conference's Five-Power Treaty, but I was referring to Washington's political objective regarding the conference embodied in the Four-Power Treaty, which was the termination of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.

 

That act of separation, in retrospect, ended up being a death sentence for both the Japanese and British empires in the Pacific.

 

The irony is that without it, Japanese entry into World War 2 would have come on June 11, 1940.

 

When American entry into World War 2 would have come is uncertain, as is what exactly they would be waiting for. A successful Operation Sealion and the subjugation of Great Britain perhaps.

Edited by Nobu
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If the Japan-Great Britain alliance remained, Japan oil supply would remain secured and maybe Japan wouldn't have warmed up to Nazi Germany. Then maybe CKS would remain as Nazi Germany's asian partner.

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"Shattered Sword" shows a more nuanced view, where, after bean counting, the Americans had about parity in the relevant asset, aircraft, where assisted by superior intelligence and caught the IJN by surprise.

 

The impact of the intelligence superiority was punishing, as Yamamoto's plan made sense operationally.

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The IJN penchant for dispersed operations was bound to have a failure or two. Coral Sea, Midway and Leyte Gulf all showed the problem of attempting to fight a Koniggratz at sea. It worked well in the S. China Sea early 1942, because of the Allied weaknesses.

 

An important point in Shattered Sword is the utter dependence of IJN carriers on own AA weapons and maneuvers vs. air attack. The so-called escorts had neither weapons nor tactics to support them.

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