What might have happened had Japan won the Battle of Midway?

Apr 2017
298
United Kingdom
Thinking of the 1976 film "The Battle of Midway" I have wondered what might have happened had Japan rather the US been victorious during their June 1942 engagement.
With the benefit of hindsight it was such a close run thing as the Duke of Wellington put it apropos of Waterloo- what might have had happened had an inquisitive Japanese naval officer(commissioned or petty) or even a sailor asked of the now famous message sent by Admiral Chester Nimitz's codebreaking team to the effect that "AF"(Midway)'s fresh water supply had broken down and a barge of supplies was on its way- "What if the Americans have broken our naval code( "Purple" and "Magic")- why else are they transmitting such a message in the clear?!"
Personally I think that even had America lost the Battle of Midway it would NEVER, NEVER have surrendered and fought on until victory was theirs- the war might have been more protracted and hence even more brutal(see John Dower's "War Without Mercy: Race And Power In the Pacific War, 1986) than it was!

Anybody think as I do?
 

Triceratops

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
3,028
Late Cretaceous
If you haven't read this already, I would urge you to do so:



Gives a thorough breakdown of the Midway battle.

At the end, there is an Appendix in which the authors argue that, even if the IJN had won the naval battle, the Midway invasion force would have been repulsed by the US Marine garrison.

Assuming on the other hand, that Japan took Midway, the next advance in the Central Pacific would have been the capture of Johnston Island and Palmyra Island.

Alternatively, other Japanese commanders were proposing an advance in the South West Pacific to capture the New Hebrides, Samoa and Fiji, and cut off Australia & New Zealand from the US.
 
Feb 2017
425
Minneapolis
If Japan won Midway, I think, at best, it buys itself some time. Perhaps quite a bit of time if the U.S. decides to go to a primarily defensive stance for a while instead of going on the offensive later in the year at Guadalcanal and elsewhere.
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,866
Georgia, USA
Japan should have won the battle of Midway.

If it had done, it wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference.

The USA was constructing fast fleet carriers (the Essex class) at an incredible rate.


A different "Midway" would have happened late in 1942 or early 1943 with the USN enjoying a numerical superiority.


To put it in perspective, the USN finished the war with nearly 1200 combat ships and 27 aircraft carriers.
 
Feb 2016
5,049
Atlantic Ocean
Japan should have won the battle of Midway.

If it had done, it wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference.

The USA was constructing fast fleet carriers (the Essex class) at an incredible rate.


A different "Midway" would have happened late in 1942 or early 1943 with the USN enjoying a numerical superiority.


To put it in perspective, the USN finished the war with nearly 1200 combat ships and 27 aircraft carriers.
Jesus, How much steel was used? thats incredible
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,992
Dispargum
Midway Island was so far east of Japan that it would have been easier for the US to recapture Midway than for Japan to hold it.

What are the forum's thoughts on the Aleutian Island attack? I've heard that this was supposed to divert American attention away from Midway, but this makes little sense. I've also heard that it had nothing to do with Midway and was just a coincidental attack. Thoughts?
 
Jan 2018
70
Iowa
The attack in the Aleutians was made with 2 small Japanese carriers (about 100 aircraft between the two) - it may have made a difference at Midway.....it also may have allowed the US Navy to sink 6 carriers instead of 4.

Those 2 carriers had a major flaw - lack of speed - to operate as Fleet carriers. That task force could have been used to help find the US Navy....but could not really operate with the main carrier strike group.

Midway itself specially the PBYs gave the US side a big advantage. Certainly things could have turned out worse - but in the end - a US Navy defeat just delays when the US goes on offense. Production of aircraft and carriers would have overwhelmed Japan - timeline changes but not the result.

I don't see losing Midway as changing the US desire to stay in the war and defeat Japan. If it was more of a draw (loss of a few carriers on both sides).....as long as the invasion is stopped the US wins that battle.
 

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
The US would never admit defeat, although it would have been setback a little until the construction of new carriers and battleships were brought into the line. The war would still likely have been concluded in 1945 or 1946 with maybe Tokyo being nuked to ensure surrender.
 
Feb 2017
425
Minneapolis
Had the Japanese won at midway, they likely preserve the core of their carrier force and, more importantly, their veteran carrier pilots (which were further whittled away at battles near Guadalcanal). Japan did build a bunch of new carriers but never really recovered from those pilot losses. If Japan could have hung on to their pilots and carriers, they would have retained dangerous striking capabilities they just didn't have otherwise.

But, it's true, the U.S.would overwhelm Japan regardless. The question is time.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,812
Australia
Japanese victory at Midway would only have delayed the inevitable. But had the war dragged on there may have been more nuclear weapons available and more reason to use them.