Had the Japanese attempted an invasion of Midway



  • What’s your thoughts?

    I’m in a waiting room at a hospital to drive family home. This question has been on my mind.



  • Interesting. Haven’t really thought about it much in that way. I believe much of the fighting would be fierce like much of the other fighting in the Pacific Theater. The US plan was to hold the island. That would mean drawing the battle out into a siege. The Japanese plan was to take the island by force with the airfield mostly intact. In the US favor was the size of the marine garrison and stock pile and the fact the Japanese wanted the airfield to use. In the Japanese favor was the size, preparation, terrain, and lack of size of the Midway Atoll. Sand Island is a little over 2 miles long with Spit Island and Eastern Island being smaller.

    If the sea and air battle had be fought to a draw or slightly in favor of the Japanese, the Americans would have drawn out the battle by night fighting and blockade running to resupply the island. The Japanese would have eventually won.

    If the sea and air battle had been truly dominated by the Japanese (as in as bad as the Japan lost in history), the Americans would have drawn out the battle and force the Japanese to use their reserves within the landing force. The Americans loose to overwhelming force and would not receive resupply. Surrender comes eventually.

    The Americans would have used the time that Midway bought to repair the aircraft carriers that were historically not ready for the Battle of Midway. They would of also prepared Hawaii for invasion. Honolulu is only only 1313 miles away. Makes you think of how big the Pacific really is!



  • By your wording, you set it up as the US navy is destroyed so we’re back to square one with no Pacific Fleet again. Japan with their love for cruisers and battleships would of pounded that island and captured it. The real question is that because Japanese victory over US was to force us to go to peace on their terms so they can get oil and metal for their invasion of China, would they double down in Alaska or attempt to invade Hawaii?


  • 2019 2018

    Japan wins eventually, as others have said. But all this accomplishes is delaying the inevitable. The US’s superior economy and Japan’s inferior tactics will eventually lead to an Allied victory. Probably just at a later date and at a higher cost of human life.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    The book Miracle at Midway, by Prange, Goldstein and Dillon, notes that one of the fundamantal flaws of Japan’s Midway strike was that it was an operation with two objectives which contradicted each other.  On the one hand, it was a planned amphibious invasion – a type of operation with complex requirements for the coordination of forces and which is tied to such rigid physical factors as the tide tables for the invasion area.  On the other hand, it also had the objective of destroying an anticipated American carrier task force – an operation requiring the utmost flexibility, given the uncertainties of dealing with a mobile enemy force rather than a fixed piece of real estate.  The Japanese tried to have it both ways by planning their operation around a sequence of events which would enable them to accomplish both goals (capturing Midway first, sinking the US fleet a few days later), and by casually assuming that the Americans would obligingly follow this script.  Not only was this dangerously optimistic on their part, they also failed to have a “plan B” in reserve in case the Americans went off-script (which is what the Americans ended up doing), so their operation began to fall apart when they ran into the unexpected.

    Regarding the “threat of heavy bombers” part, incidentally, Midway did in fact deploy a number of (as I recall) B-17s against the Japanese fleet in the early stages of the battle, but I don’t think they scored any hits.  Level bombers weren’t ideal for use against moving ships at sea; dive bombers were more precise for that kind of work.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '12

    Massacred on the beaches is the right answer.

    From Shattered Sword:

    The most likely outcome of such a haphazard and ill-supported operation
    being thrown against the heavily armed and entrenched defenders at Midway was
    outright disaster. While alternative history can never be absolutely predictive, we
    need only fast-forward two months to the subsequent destruction of Colonel Ichiki’s
    detachment early in the Guadalcanal campaign to glimpse the likely outlines of such a
    landing at Midway. There, Ichiki had chosen to charge a much less well dug-in Marine
    position on the banks of Alligator Creek. The result was that he and more than 700
    of his men were slaughtered by a combination of automatic weapons fi re and canister
    shot from the American’s 37-mm guns. At Midway, the presence of some 2,500
    attackers didn’t alter this basic equation a whit.7 In fact, the Americans had vastly
    superior firepower to draw on, and much better fi re lanes to boot. Their weapons
    could engage the enemy at range, while they were still well out on the reef. Even if
    any of the Japanese made it to the beach (in itself a dubious proposition), it is almost
    inconceivable that two shattered, geographically separated light infantry regiments
    equipped with nothing more than rifles, light mortars, and a smattering of medium
    machine guns would have been able to prevail against an entrenched American force
    backed by mobile armor. Rather, all signs indicate that the lagoon would have been

    full of Japanese corpses by about the middle of the afternoon, leaving the imperial
    warships witness to an unprecedented slaughter.
    Once the initial wave of troops was expended, there was no reserve capable
    of mounting a second offensive.



  • @Karl7:

    Massacred on the beaches is the right answer.

    From Shattered Sword:

    The most likely outcome of such a haphazard and ill-supported operation
    being thrown against the heavily armed and entrenched defenders at Midway was
    outright disaster. While alternative history can never be absolutely predictive, we
    need only fast-forward two months to the subsequent destruction of Colonel Ichiki�s
    detachment early in the Guadalcanal campaign to glimpse the likely outlines of such a
    landing at Midway. There, Ichiki had chosen to charge a much less well dug-in Marine
    position on the banks of Alligator Creek. The result was that he and more than 700
    of his men were slaughtered by a combination of automatic weapons fi re and canister
    shot from the American�s 37-mm guns. At Midway, the presence of some 2,500
    attackers didn�t alter this basic equation a whit.7 In fact, the Americans had vastly
    superior firepower to draw on, and much better fi re lanes to boot. Their weapons
    could engage the enemy at range, while they were still well out on the reef. Even if
    any of the Japanese made it to the beach (in itself a dubious proposition), it is almost
    inconceivable that two shattered, geographically separated light infantry regiments
    equipped with nothing more than rifles, light mortars, and a smattering of medium
    machine guns would have been able to prevail against an entrenched American force
    backed by mobile armor. Rather, all signs indicate that the lagoon would have been

    full of Japanese corpses by about the middle of the afternoon, leaving the imperial
    warships witness to an unprecedented slaughter.
    Once the initial wave of troops was expended, there was no reserve capable
    of mounting a second offensive.

    While I agree the US has better equipment and takes modern warfare more seriously than the Japanese. The US did not have history on their side if an invasion of Midway happened. At this point, the US has lost every single colony to the Japanese at this point in time and if we’re assume an invasion is happening, that means the Japs in this situation has destroyed our carriers and destroyed Midway’s airfield leaving the Jap navy to move more freely so all I can envision is the Jap navy just pounding the island before an invasion is even kicked off.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '12

    @Caesar:

    @Karl7:

    Massacred on the beaches is the right answer.

    From Shattered Sword:

    The most likely outcome of such a haphazard and ill-supported operation
    being thrown against the heavily armed and entrenched defenders at Midway was
    outright disaster. While alternative history can never be absolutely predictive, we
    need only fast-forward two months to the subsequent destruction of Colonel Ichiki�s
    detachment early in the Guadalcanal campaign to glimpse the likely outlines of such a
    landing at Midway. There, Ichiki had chosen to charge a much less well dug-in Marine
    position on the banks of Alligator Creek. The result was that he and more than 700
    of his men were slaughtered by a combination of automatic weapons fi re and canister
    shot from the American�s 37-mm guns. At Midway, the presence of some 2,500
    attackers didn�t alter this basic equation a whit.7 In fact, the Americans had vastly
    superior firepower to draw on, and much better fi re lanes to boot. Their weapons
    could engage the enemy at range, while they were still well out on the reef. Even if
    any of the Japanese made it to the beach (in itself a dubious proposition), it is almost
    inconceivable that two shattered, geographically separated light infantry regiments
    equipped with nothing more than rifles, light mortars, and a smattering of medium
    machine guns would have been able to prevail against an entrenched American force
    backed by mobile armor. Rather, all signs indicate that the lagoon would have been

    full of Japanese corpses by about the middle of the afternoon, leaving the imperial
    warships witness to an unprecedented slaughter.
    Once the initial wave of troops was expended, there was no reserve capable
    of mounting a second offensive.

    While I agree the US has better equipment and takes modern warfare more seriously than the Japanese. The US did not have history on their side if an invasion of Midway happened. At this point, the US has lost every single colony to the Japanese at this point in time and if we’re assume an invasion is happening, that means the Japs in this situation has destroyed our carriers and destroyed Midway’s airfield leaving the ��� navy to move more freely so all I can envision is the ��� navy just pounding the island before an invasion is even kicked off.

    Yes, that would be assumption if japan won the naval battle, but then the authors of Shattered Sword make a compelling case:

    Even postulating a naval victory, in truth the Imperial Navy was miserably
    prepared to support a landing against Midway. The Japanese Navy had little in
    the way of either an established ground attack doctrine for its aircraft, or a tested
    naval gunfi re support doctrine. Given the hostility between the two branches of the
    imperial services, this is not surprising. The Navy saw its mission as the destruction
    of enemy warships, not supporting the landing of Army troops. The practical effect
    of this, though, was to render distinctly less effective any air support the carriers of
    Kidō Butai might be able to provide. The positions of the U.S. Marines ashore were
    well sited and emplaced. In some cases, they were equipped with reinforced concrete
    shelters, which were nearly bombproof. Even the less well-protected troops were well
    dug in and protected by sandbags and natural fortifi cations. The attack by Tomonaga’s
    strike force on the morning of 4 June, while destroying some of the more-visible
    facilities on the islands, such as oil tanks and barracks, had degraded the real defensive
    capacity of the Marine defenders hardly at all. Not a single heavy gun of any sort had
    been put out of commission, and total personnel losses were six KIA.3 There is no
    reason to suppose that one or two additional strikes by Japanese carrier aircraft on 5
    June and the morning of 6 June would have appreciably altered this basic equation
    before the landings occurred. In other words, the majority of the Marines’ weaponry
    would likely have remained intact.

    By the same token, the guns of CruDiv 7—the cruisers Kumano, Suzuya, Mikuma,
    and Mogami—w were ill equipped to perform much better. Given the rigid operational
    timetable laid down by Yamamoto, and the stated intention to land the troops at fi rst
    light,4 their bombardment of the islands could not help but be desultory. Tarawa,
    Kwajalein, and a dozen other sites in the Central Pacifi c subsequently demonstrated
    to the Americans that dug-in island defenses were generally proof against heavycaliber
    weapons, even when over extended periods of time. A quick bombardment
    from shipborne eight-inch guns with no practice in target identifi cation or selection
    simply wasn’t going to get the job done. The Marines might have been shaken by it,
    but odds were that they would have survived largely undamaged.

    Admittedly, the Japanese also had the ability to direct gunfi re against targets of
    opportunity on Midway once the landings were under way and the American weapons
    exposed themselves. But it was unlikely that any Japanese warships would want to
    close the range too closely until the four seven-inch guns emplaced on the southern
    shores of Sand and Eastern Islands were taken out. Even then, it is extremely doubtful
    that Japanese fi re would have been terribly accurate, since such missions were not a
    part of their normal doctrine. Likewise, it is almost impossible to anticipate any of
    the landing troops having the ability to communicate with the warships directly—the
    necessary doctrine and portable radio equipment simply weren’t there.
    Beyond these hurdles, Midway’s geography also presented a very diffi


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '12

    The revelation that the Japanese didn’t even have a system of coordination between the landing troops and the ships for directing gunfire is shocking.

    Likewise, it is almost impossible to anticipate any of
    the landing troops having the ability to communicate with the warships directly�the
    necessary doctrine and portable radio equipment simply weren�t there.

    Also, where, except on Bataan and Wake (both were very hard runs for the Japanese), did the Japanese ever conduct contested landings?  I can’t think of any.  I guess it just wasn’t something they knew how to do well.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Also note an interesting anecdote from the book Miracle at Midway which provides insights into the Japanese Navy’s less-than-imaginative thinking on the subject of naval bombardment.  When Japan’s four carriers had been sent to the bottom, one of the more aggressive Japanese officers on Yamamoto’s flagship (the superbattleship Yamato) argued against abandoning the Midway operation; he said that the “Main Body” force, which comprised most of the battleships allocated to the operation (including the flagship), should instead boldly steam right up to Midway and pound the island into submission with its guns.  Yamamoto shot down the idea on several grounds, with his main argument being that the idea was “fundamentally against naval doctrine” because, according to doctrine, naval guns are at a disadvantage when engaging shore-based artillery.  That argument, however, is based on the assumption that shore-based guns are invariably more powerful than naval guns, which isn’t necessarily true in a given situation; just to give an obvious example, Yamato’s 18.1-inch guns outclassed anything that the American coastal artillery forces on the Pacific seaboard had in their inventory, let alone anything that was on Midway.

    A potentially more valid argument that Yamamoto (a shogi player) also deployed at the time was that “at shogi, one can lose everything by fighting too much”.  There’s an equivalent military precept which says that “failure should not be reinforced”, and what happened to Japan at Midway was certainly not just a failure but a disaster.  One argument that Yamamoto didn’t deploy (as far as I know), however, was that the use of massive battleship bombardment to support an amphibious landing doesn’t seem to have been part of his thinking in the first place.  The “Main Body” name given to his battleship force is significant, as is the fact that it was positioned about 300 miles behind Nagumo’s carrier strike force; both facts suggest that its envisioned role was to mop up (via a classic gunnery engagement) any US Navy elements that were still afloat after Nagumo’s carriers had (if the plan had worked) sunk the American carriers that (if the plan had worked) would have shown up at Midway a few days after the island had been occupied.



  • https://youtu.be/YZZHejsF0ao

    This link is the fuel behind my question.



  • That video ask the wrong question. They ask if the Japanese CAN do it, we’re asking if the Japanese COULD do it.


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