Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
flakbait
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: 22 Oct 2013 01:37

Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by flakbait » 23 Nov 2014 03:53

While the Battle of Midway was successfully won at sea by the US before an actual Japanese landing attempt could be made there has been more than a bit of doubt cast upon the probability that even winning the same naval battle that the assigned Imperial Navy ships and embarked Imperial Special Naval Landing Forces would have been capable of ultimately wresting control of Midway from the US Marine defenders, as well as how long (or even IF) it would have taken them to get the airfields operational again. Have heard various theories that having the operation delayed until August to allow SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU to rejoin the carrier force would have all but assured an Imperial victory, but even presuming this course is followed am still doubtful that the then current IJN`s landing doctrine especially in regards to naval shore bombardment as well as air support would have been up to this particular task. This assumes of course that both the US Pacific fleet and in particular the all important US carriers aren`t upgraded/ reinforced as well as the Marines defenders on Midway itself...thoughts ? Would a 2 month delay have better served Imperial Japan ?

ChristopherPerrien
Member
Posts: 7050
Joined: 26 Dec 2002 00:58
Location: Mississippi

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 23 Nov 2014 14:49

Well the entire IJN cannot just sit around Midway for a weeks or even a few days ( IMO 3+), They did not have the supplies or simply the logistical ability or know-how to do so. Also the Japanese had no amphibious assault doctrine, and extremely limited and/or crude commo between the SNLF and supporting ships.

Whether they have 2 carriers or 4 or 6 for two-days would not affect the "invasion/land battle" that much. I'd estimate 2 of the carriers would provide air support giving about 4 full deck strikes in 2 days. Prolly destroy alot of facilities,i.e- the airstrips, admin buildings,docks etc, but only a few defense strong-points as they are very hard to see and "destroy" from the air.- Reference the actual damage they did with their 1st strike on June4?( IIRC)

US combat troops on Midway were about 3000. Japanese assault troops were about 2500. Plus another 2500 follow-up Japanese construction and engineer troops/personnel. Midway is a coral atoll. Both of the two major islands are close together and were heavily fortified, besides the coral reef surrounding them , which prevent any ships or even small boats from approaching/landing except for 1 heavily covered cut.

Basically you are looking at the IJN doing "Tarawa" with 2500 combat troops against 3000 combat troops in 2 days (note -Tarawa was 12000:3000 in 3 days) and the Japanese don't have LTV's or an amphib doctrine. What do you think will happen? Without the LTV's at Tarawa, the USMC would have lost even with a 4:1 advantage.


http://www.wargamer.com/article/3368/hi ... -of-midway
Last edited by ChristopherPerrien on 24 Nov 2014 12:40, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Tim Smith
Member
Posts: 6177
Joined: 19 Aug 2002 12:15
Location: UK

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by Tim Smith » 24 Nov 2014 08:23

What the Japanese needed to overrun Midway Island is significant numbers (at least 36, preferably 60 or even 84) of Type 2 Ka-Mi amphibious tanks. (Amphibious version of the Type 95 Ha-Go.) Unfortunately for them, the Ka-Mi was not available for service in June 1942.

The Type 4 Ka-Tsu amphibious landing craft (in troop-carrying and cargo-carrying mode, not torpedo carrier mode) would also have been very useful, but it wasn't even on the drawing board in 1942.

glenn239
Member
Posts: 5369
Joined: 29 Apr 2005 01:20
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by glenn239 » 24 Nov 2014 19:12

but even presuming this course is followed am still doubtful that the then current IJN`s landing doctrine especially in regards to naval shore bombardment as well as air support would have been up to this particular task
What are the specifics of the doctrines to which you refer, in relation to the intentions of Jinstu (invasion force HQ) and the covering force?

flakbait
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: 22 Oct 2013 01:37

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by flakbait » 25 Nov 2014 00:54

Was particularly interested in shore to ship and ground to air radios tough enough to continue operating during an amphibious assault would be 1 of the most critical assets- haven`t had a lot of luck researching the very few Japanese types available in mid 1942, although believe there were 2 crude versions. As far as can tell both were prototypes. Failing this flag signaling and marker smoke would be about the only options. Also have wondered WHY only the 1 dedicated SNLF was assigned to the landing force. Am currently looking into the availability of other SNLF units at this time to also participate in an attempted landing. Any ideas how strong Imperial GQ staff thought the Midway garrison numbered and how well equipted they thought the Marines were ? Just find it hard to believe that they would seriously commit to an OPPOSED landing with roughly a 1:1 ratio, even more so against a Marine garrison with 6 months time to dig in, equip, and prepare a very nasty defense that would probably make Wake Island look like a cake walk...understand the idea of "Victory disease", but it bordered on sheer over confidence to the point of incompetant lunacy...

User avatar
Tim Smith
Member
Posts: 6177
Joined: 19 Aug 2002 12:15
Location: UK

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by Tim Smith » 25 Nov 2014 01:29

The Japanese plan had assumed a garrison of 500 combat US Marines on Midway, not 2,500. Against 500 they might had had a small chance of success. Against 2,500, and without tanks or effective naval fire support, they had no chance.

flakbait
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: 22 Oct 2013 01:37

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by flakbait » 25 Nov 2014 04:05

Agreed. Have found the Imperial Navy`s SNLF communications capability did include Type 97 short range and Type 94-2 and -6 ground to air radios, but that these apparently were at best standard issue at 2 per unit. No idea as to their effective ranges. The Type 94-2 weighed 1,395 pds in 5 crates and while rated as a "mobile" radio it stretched that definition tremendously, requiring at least a 11 man crew to move it any distance. Am not certain it was waterproof, although the Type 97 and 94-6 were apparently. However if the landing force was expecting only 500 defenders it simply would not have mattered for very long...

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8848
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 25 Nov 2014 06:11

flakbait wrote:... did include Type 97 short range and Type 94-2 and -6 ground to air radios, but that these apparently were at best standard issue at 2 per unit. No idea as to their effective ranges. The Type 94-2 weighed 1,395 pds in 5 crates and while rated as a "mobile" radio it stretched that definition tremendously, requiring at least a 11 man crew to move it any distance. ...
Sounds like the type 97 would be the radio for the moment. Did it have the capability to signal the ships doing gun fire support? This radio thing reminds me of Omaha beach two years later, where it appears all six NGF spotting team in the assault were hors combat within minutes, The inability to direct supporting fire on priority targets had a lot to do with stalling the initial waves there. Conversely on Betio Island at least one NGF team remained intact in the first hours, and managed to nail the defenders key command group with a salvo of 5" projectiles from a destroyer.

If the Japanese had a well rehearsed procedure for directing the NGF support, had the islands properly mapped out and accurate reference points for orienting the naval guns, robust spotting teams able to asorb casualties & remain effective, had alternate frequencies and routing for gunfire direction on the radios, and a flexible fire plan: then they might have chance. The US Army and Marines learned through bitter experience that lacking any one of those items meant you stood a good chance dying on the beach. If the Japanese had a similar mastery of the art they might be able to pull it off, maybe.

Note: On Betio Island (Tarawa Atoll) the attackers had barely better than a 1-1 ratio in the first 24 hours. One Marine rifle regiment & attachments were withheld in corps reserve & a portion of the other battalions not included in the initial assault. The tank battalion was mostly lost negotiating the reef from boat to shore, the air strikes either did not show or when they did were of USN pilots undertrained for this role, the preparatory fires from the battle ships were less effective than required. The link between the spotting teams and the fire support ships remained intact, and the two battalions of LVT got the first wave ashore with relatively few casualties. Those helped immensely in getting a solid lodgement ashore and defeating the defense.

It seems the Japanese assault unit for Midway lacked the equivalent of the LVT. Did they have a capable NGF spotting/control capability?

flakbait
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: 22 Oct 2013 01:37

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by flakbait » 25 Nov 2014 09:14

Barely. Worse was the number of embarked Dahatsu landing craft; as near as can figure there were less than 80 of them. As they head in the plan is to go in as far as possible and upon grounding these somewhat fragile plywood craft upon Midway`s jagged coral reef, to transfer the landing force , their weapons, ammo and supplies to slower even more vunerable rubber rafts and complete the 1st wave landing while the Dahatsu landing craft still operational return to the offshore transports idling over DEEP water await their return. As the Dahatsu landing craft numbers inevitably diminish, apparently the transports` own life boats would likely be pressed into service as ad hoc landing craft while these transports are almost motionless unloading the assault waves; they would likely also be under fire from the Marines` larger caliber weapons...does anyone else see a disaster in the making here ?

ChristopherPerrien
Member
Posts: 7050
Joined: 26 Dec 2002 00:58
Location: Mississippi

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 26 Nov 2014 08:24

Looking back at the Wake Island battle/siege. The Japanese used two converted destroyers to crash onto the reef and land 2/3 's of their troops that way.(1000 of 1500, The reef appears to be VERY close to shore. I do not know if they had similar ships for this Midway Op. And the reef appears somewhat further offshore and might be deeper between and reef and shore. Wake is Part of the Gilberts, Midway is part of the Hawaiians , so geologic age may be an issue as to the coral reefs/topology being different or same , IDK,
Note: Wake was 1500 SNLF against 500 USMC/USN and 1100 civilians. The SNLF had over 1000 casualties and the around US 50+70 civilians, beforethe US forces surrendered because of bad commo and no hope of supprt/rescue/reinforcement.

The Wake Battle had a-lot of the same attributes, as a potential Midway battle and morale on Midway would have been lowered if the US had lost the sea battle. Still I do not look at a Midway invasion going the same as Wake, for several reasons. No seige, No land-air support, 1;1 combat troop ratio, greater support, longer and more intense fortification, Midway sea loss counter balanced by Coral Sea Victory and earlier carrier raids, compared to the Pearl Harbor disaster. Midway cannot be blockaded/"cut-off" from support by Hi, for any long period( 2-3 days+), and the waters around Midway would be infested with 18 US subs, which were operating from Midway at the time plus "other" subs from Pearl.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8848
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Nov 2014 20:27

Here is a thread that has some details and sources for the Japanese landing force.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... nel+Ichiki

It seems a bit larger that so far described here. In addition to two SNLF battalions of 1,500 men there was the Army unit of Col Ichiki of 1,000 men and some support battalions. The SNLF were to land on Sand Island & the Army on Eastern Island. So, on paper the assault force is closer to equal to the defense. But we still have questions of crossing the reef on foot or in rubber boats, and of effective NGF support.

I can think of several examples to look up of attacks trying to cross shallow water vs MG & light artillery. The results are never good if the enemy is not suppressed. ie: Ichikis battalion trying to cross the creek and sand bars on Gudalcanal; or the US Marines crossing the 800 meters of reef along the Betio shore line. In the first case the attackers were nearly wiped out, in the second it took them many hours to negotiate the 800 meters and all unit integrity/cohesion was lost for the remainder of the day, plus they took heavy casualties. I recall a couple of other examples where the attackers were trying to cross a water meadow or marsh with thin or short vegetation. In those cases as little as a single MMG pinned and massacred the bulk of a battalion.

ChristopherPerrien
Member
Posts: 7050
Joined: 26 Dec 2002 00:58
Location: Mississippi

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 26 Nov 2014 20:41

Carl Schwamberger wrote:Here is a thread that has some details and sources for the Japanese landing force.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... nel+Ichiki
I miss when I could concentrate to present such sources in a debate :(

flakbait
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: 22 Oct 2013 01:37

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by flakbait » 27 Nov 2014 03:11

At very best the Imperial troops were going to face a very HOT reception, and assuming they secured a toehold would imagine the M3 tanks would have a field day basically running up and down the beaches after the few Japanese that managed to briefly survive everything else the Marines could throw at them...would imagine the only `reinforcements would be the troops and crewmembers from the sinking transports that managed to stagger ashore after a long swim. The landing attempt would probably far more costly in personnel and numbers of ships sunk than the historical naval battle was...

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8848
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 27 Nov 2014 16:02

I'm thinking back to a scenario proposed a while back; the US fleet does not actually connect to the Kido Butai. Both fleets dance about a bit indecisively. Meanwhile the landing forces attacks & is repulsed with severe losses. At the end of the day Yamamoto orders everyone back home having failed to get his decisive battle vs the US carriers, lost a brigades worth of infantry, some assault ships, maybe another five percent of his irreplacable carrier pilots, and however many thousands of tons of difficult to replace bunker fuel.

ChristopherPerrien
Member
Posts: 7050
Joined: 26 Dec 2002 00:58
Location: Mississippi

Re: Requirements for a successful Midway Invasion Force

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 27 Nov 2014 16:47

Earlier I mention that the Japanese might launch 4 carrier worth of full deck strikes during this assualt. And I assumed that the MTB Squadron would be destroyed, However I got to thinking "Historically" the Japanese the Japanese did not "target?" or sink any MTB's in their one 4 CV 1/2 deck strike . So potentially add 8 PT boats strafin' those landing craft too, if the supporting Japanese warships are not providing close in support and fight off these PT boats.
Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 1 (MTBRon 1)
Lt. Clinton McKellar Jr., USN
Midway Island

USS PT-20
USS PT-21
USS PT-22
USS PT-24
USS PT-25
USS PT-26
USS PT-27
USS PT-28

Return to “What if”