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Pacific Theatre of WW2 Megathread

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  • Pacific Theatre of WW2 Megathread

    Inspired by this comment.

    Originally posted by thounaojamtom View Post
    I don't mind a Pacific (Including south Asia) war thread. It would be relief sight from daily ranting here hehe
    I have to say it's a theatre I know embarrasingly little about for a keen reader of military history, other than that the fall of Singapore was a bit embarrasing, Midway was a turning point and the Chindits were a thing. So lets argue and educate each other. I'll start with something that I've always wondered, would Midway have gone differently if the Japanese weren't missing Shokaku and Zuikaku from the Coral Sea debacle?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Corrupt View Post
    Inspired by this comment.


    I'll start with something that I've always wondered, would Midway have gone differently if the Japanese weren't missing Shokaku and Zuikaku from the Coral Sea debacle?
    If it had gone badly for it might have meant 6 carriers lost instead of 4. On the other hand, the dive bombers on the fateful attack were hard pressed to hit even three (Akagi was only hit because Lt. Best switched targets without orders) so it might have meant 3 carriers left to rout the US Navy and maybe sink all three US carriers instead of just Yorktown. I don't think the US would have acted differently with the 5th carrier div in place.
    Nimitz wanted battle and he was going to give battle no matter the odds.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JCR View Post
      If it had gone badly for it might have meant 6 carriers lost instead of 4. On the other hand, the dive bombers on the fateful attack were hard pressed to hit even three (Akagi was only hit because Lt. Best switched targets without orders) so it might have meant 3 carriers left to rout the US Navy and maybe sink all three US carriers instead of just Yorktown.
      I suppose it depends if we're discussing no Coral Sea, or Coral Sea was a decisive victory for Japan. Yorktown missing in addition to the extra two Japanese carriers would really swing things in favour of the Japs. The thing is though, even if Japan wins decisively without major capital ship losses, invading Midway itself wasn't a realistic proposal and the US would make good the losses in a few months. At best they were buying themselves a few more months of superiority.

      Originally posted by JCR View Post
      I don't think the US would have acted differently with the 5th carrier div in place.
      Nimitz wanted battle and he was going to give battle no matter the odds.
      The US could afford losses, Japan could not. One of the biggest blunders of Coral Sea (imo) is that there were no objectives in the Pacific Japan could afford to deploy two fleet carriers to. There were objectives they needed to deploy all their carriers to and objectives they couldn't afford to deploy any flattops to. Deploying just some opened them up to attritional battles they could not afford to endure.

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      • #4
        Thing is, the japanese didn't think in terms of attrition. They wanted a decisive battle and inflict enough losses to get the US to the negotiating table.

        But I never understood why they detached the 5th carrier div from the Strike Force for Coral Sea. The Shokaku and Zuikaku air groups were considered inexperienced compared to the others (even if their war record until that date was no worse than that of the others), so it was probably thought that they could be spared, but still it was weird as the Japanese had never detached big carriers for an entire operation. The 2nd carrier div (Hiryu and Soryu) had been detached to support the second attempt at Wake but that was an ad hoc deployment.

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        • #5
          I'm going to blame Coral Sea on 'Victory Disease'. The IJN hadn't suffered any serious defeats or losses prior to then. Encounters like Java Sea had shown them to be massively superior to the RN and USN. So the idea that they needed numerical superiority doesn't appear to have crossed their minds at all.

          Originally posted by JCR
          Nimitz wanted battle and he was going to give battle no matter the odds.
          Only because he had a very good idea of what the Japanese objectives were. And even then his orders were that battle was to be commenced only if the prospect was to inflict greater damage on the IJN than was likely to be received. That's not a 'no matter the odds' set of orders.

          I'm personally of the opinion that the occupation of Midway was not an achievable objective regardless of the results of the battle. The Japanese had proven themselves to be poor at invading defended objectives. Wake Island's first attack was a miserable failure. The second require much more superiority than they had over the defenders of Midway. And besides which by the time of Midway the Marines knew very well what awaited those who surrendered to the mercies of the Japanese. It wasn't like the invasion force could hang around Midway indefinitely for repeated attempts either. Fuel and the risk of submarine attack made this a one-shot invasion.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by TheKiwi View Post
            Encounters like Java Sea had shown them to be massively superior to the RN and USN.
            In what sense? I know they won the battle rather handily, but on paper the forces weren't "that" disproportionate, especially given that the allies were fighting within range of land based air power.

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            • #7
              In the psychological sense in that they had 'the wood' over their foes. Which relates to the Victory Disease and the rise in a massive overconfidence in their abilities.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TheKiwi View Post
                In the psychological sense in that they had 'the wood' over their foes. Which relates to the Victory Disease and the rise in a massive overconfidence in their abilities.

                Heh I got that, I was more looking for some analysis or a good book to read on Java. Wiki basically says "the allies were repulsed by superior firepower", but given on paper the fleets weren't wildly disproportionate in size the losses were catastrophically one sided.

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                • #9
                  A mixture of piss-poor co-ordination between the USN, RN, RAN, an RNN, poor leadership from the allied navies, a lack of reconnaissance and a foe who knew exactly what they wanted to achieve vs. the vastly differing mixture of strategic desires from the allies (protect the Dutch East Indies, protect Malaya, protect Australia).

                  Much like there wasn't much technically different between the aircraft of the RAF and those of the Luftwaffe over the UK in the summer of 1940. But the RAF had a strategy while the Luftwaffe's was largely "bomb things at random and hope something comes up".

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                  • #10
                    Damage control is one of the big assets of the USN. The U.S. Navy's ability to suffer damage and continue the attack was a significant asset. From what I've read at the battle off Samar it was THE asset that prevailed. Example: the USS Johnston's damage control teams.

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                    • #11
                      Iirc the US Carriers had much better design for containing and controlling fires aswell.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Corrupt View Post
                        Iirc the US Carriers had much better design for containing and controlling fires aswell.

                        I think training, planning and practice at damage control was the big difference between the Japanese and Allied navies. If the crew doesn't know what to do or how to do it then what good is the equipment? Here's part of the Wiki story of the Japanese carrier Taiho.

                        Meanwhile, leaking aviation gasoline accumulating in the forward elevator pit began vaporising and soon permeated the upper and lower hangar decks. The danger this posed to the ship was readily apparent to the damage control crews but, whether through inadequate training, lack of practice (only three months had passed since the ship's commissioning) or general incompetence, their response to it proved fatally ineffectual.
                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japane...ier_Taih%C5%8D

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                        • #13
                          After the learning experiences of 1942 (Coral Sea, Midway, the various battles off Guadalcanal), the USN adopted a completely different approach to battle damage control accompanied by some new tech. The number of powered and unpowered pumps onboard ships was doubled (or more than doubled in some cases). If such a program had been in place in 1942 I'd consider it unlikely that the Lexington or Yorktown would have been lost. Ships that were damaged considerably worse later in the war were salvaged and returned to service.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RobertKLR View Post
                            I think training, planning and practice at damage control was the big difference between the Japanese and Allied navies. If the crew doesn't know what to do or how to do it then what good is the equipment? Here's part of the Wiki story of the Japanese carrier Taiho.
                            I'll have to dig out Shattered Sword again, there was some excellent detail about the ease with which burning planes could be tossed over the side and burning sections of the hanger could be isolated on US carriers compared to Japanese ones.

                            I do recall one engineering officer ran to his cabin and fetched his Katana "to raise the appropriate samurai spirit in the men" before leading an ultimately fatal attempt to save one of the carriers.

                            Hey TheKiwi did you ever finish Kaigun?

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                            • #15
                              I've never read Shattered Sword but here's a video talk by Jonathan Parshall ( Shattered Sword) and a link to CombinedFleet.com.
                              http://www.combinedfleet.com/

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