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"Coral Sea ... the true turning point?" Topic


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478 hits since 22 Jan 2019
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Lee49422 Jan 2019 9:37 p.m. PST

Midway is often cited as the turning point in the Pacific. But what if the Japanese had decisively won the Coral Sea sinking both US Carriers and coming out with Shokaku and Zuikaku and their air groups intact enough to fight at Midway? I'm not debating IF they could have won big in the Coral Sea, rather what does the Pacific War look like if they DID?

Toaster22 Jan 2019 9:48 p.m. PST

Coral Sea was a draw, the first time the Japanese hadn't won, Midway then took the pendulum the rest of the way to an Allied win. If Coral Sea hadn't been a draw the Japanese high Command may not have been convinced that Midway was necessary. The end result is that the two battles are linked at the hip and you really can't discuss one without the other.

However if the Japanese had won the end result would have been an even more stretched supply chain for the Japanese and the potential for the final collapse to come even quicker.

Robert

Dynaman878923 Jan 2019 3:44 a.m. PST

Your topic line has nearly nothing to do with your first post. Just putting that out there.

As for the result. Just read an interesting book on Pearl Harbor that went into some detail on carrier plane losses throughout the war – even a successful carrier attack cost a lot of pilot casualties and that was something the Japanese could not make up while the US and her allies in the pacific could.

So the only difference a Japanese win at Coral Sea would have gotten was perhaps 6 months added to the war in order to get the bases for the B29 ready.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 5:24 a.m. PST

If the Japanese win the Coral Sea, the New Guinea
campaign turns more in their favor, hence Australia
can be threatened more readily.

However, if the Japanese invade Australia, they'd find
it a much larger undertaking.

It would, though, in my opinion have implications for
the war in Europe and North Africa. And let us not
forget the highly significant contributions of the
Australians and New Zealanders to the Pacific War.

Much of Halsey's move up the Solomons was accomplished
using Aus/NZ ground, air and Naval assets, as was
a lot of MacArthur's New Guinea campaign.

Were those assets to be diverted to a defense of or
a retaking of either country…

21eRegt23 Jan 2019 6:21 a.m. PST

Given that the eventual outcome was never in doubt as long as the US and their industrial might remained resolved to continue, the only turning point IMHO is one where the initiative shifted. In that respect Midway holds its spot as a turning point. Even if the US had won decisively at Coral Sea, eliminating all three Japanese carriers, Midway would still have happened.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 6:27 a.m. PST

I agree with the comments above. Coral Sea was incidental to the eventual result of the Pacific war. America may just have taken a little longer to achieve naval superiority.
Suffice to say, history happened the way it did, and that's enough for me.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 7:44 a.m. PST

I think you have three options on "turning point":

#1 call any dramatic incident "the turning point" to sell your book/movie/game

#2 quibble over the exact meaning of "turning point"

#3 use the phrase only descriptively, casually, not definitively or as if it meant anything precisely.

Otherwise, if the question is "What if the Japanese won Midway such that they brought more carriers to Midway and maybe the US brought fewer such that they won Midway and established a meaningful, persistent presence on that island?" Then I guess neither Coral Sea nor Midway would be the turning point, but something that came after that. If you don't impede the US's ability to create pilots and greatly increase Japan's ability to create new pilots it's just a matter of how much longer the war lasts. Huge numbers of B-29s are still on the way, and, as always, there's the A-bomb.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 7:55 a.m. PST

I don't have a problem with the thread title. After all, it got a lot of very good and reasoned responses.

Dave

Lee49423 Jan 2019 10:11 a.m. PST

Yes. I did state the title correctly. Here's my "what if" consider a decisive Japanese victory in the Coral Sea. They bring 6 carriers to Midway (if the US even elects to defend it at that point) and outnunbered 6 to 2 the US carriers suffer a massive defeat.

Which means the US cant really challenge the Japanese at sea until mid 1943. Rabaul Falls. Guadalcabal becomes a base that impedes support to Australia.

The major impacts are to delay the end of the war by perhaps a year, even in Europe, as the US was forced to transfer assets to the Pacific. At some point the war weary Brits were going to stop fighting.

Normandy might not have happened until 1945 due to all the naval assets needed in the Pacific. How far would the Russians have gone? To the Rhine? To the Seine?

My point is this, much is written and studied about Midway as a key battle. But I'll maintain the real starting point of victory in 1945 was the US "draw" at Coral Sea. Had the Japanese won big the outcome of WWII might have been the same (??) but the path to victory would have looked much different. Cheers!

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 11:37 a.m. PST

The problem might not be Russians in Paris. The problem might be that with the US necessarily focused on the Pacific the Russians go for a separate peace.

I think they had to defend Midway, and immediately counterattack if it were lost. If the IJN can persist on Midway they can take Hawaii. Retaking Hawaii might have ben extremely difficult.

The real problem with these is that the further you go from your point of departure from history the broader the range of possibilities. IJN based in Hawaii can easily attack the US West Coast, does that mean the US has to make peace? Or do B-29s out of LA drop the A-bomb on Hawaii? Or do the Aleutian Islands become center stage, the pathway of power projection? Maybe Little Boy and Fat Man get to Nippon from Kodiak Station. Does the US inability to operate out of Hawaii mean the IJN takes Australia? You could probably defend any of these if you put a lot of research into it.

So you pull one string hard enough and everything unravels. So many unlikely things happen that it's hard to say "change this and you get that" if "that" is more than a few months out.

Dynaman878923 Jan 2019 12:29 p.m. PST

> Yes. I did state the title correctly. Here's my "what if" consider a decisive Japanese victory in the Coral Sea.

That would not be a turning point in any way. It would push the turning point further out.

The war was at a stalemate till mid 43 for the most part anyway. The US had more ships they could bring over from the Atlantic ships not really needed till 44 and the invasion of France since Battleships are not that useful against submarines. Hawaii Japan had no chance of taking that even with 6 carriers and even if they had all 6 carriers still their aircrews would have been depleted as I said before even a successful air attack causes a lot of aircraft losses which the Japanese had not ability to make up since their training program was nowhere near up to the task.

ACK – forgot, the submarine war is where Japan really lost. What good is having Midway if they can't supply it? Unless the Japanese mindset REALLY changed they would not have been able to supply it either.

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