It's a fun film, if a bit unsatisfying because it presents viewers with a tantalizing scenario that it never fully explores: what if the Nimitz had stayed behind? What would be different about World War II? Robert Farley offers some speculation on the subject:
Integrating Nimitz into the fleet would have taken a while ("We're here from the future!") and it's not obvious what the most efficient way to use Nimitz would have been. One option would be to have Nimitz spearhead a task force to turn back and defeat the IJN invasions of the Dutch East Indies. With history driven intel, the obvious technological superiority of Nimitz, and the rest of the USN carrier fleet, the IJN would have been hard press to carry out operations with any degree of success. Nimitz would have been nearly invulnerable to Japanese air attack, assuming that A-7s and F-14s could be kept in the air for CAP. A successful attack would require waves of aircraft and suicidal tactics (press forward until Nimitz and her CAP ran out of missiles), and even then might not disable the carrier. A Japanese submarine could certainly give Nimitz a very bad day, but against sufficient escort and modern ASW, getting into firing position would be difficult.
An alternative use of Nimitz would involve trying to end the war right away by sustained air attacks on Tokyo. Nimitz would have carried a dozen or so A-6s, which in a sustained operation could have dropped a lot of bombs on Tokyo. The rest of the USN would either support Nimitz or concentrate on the DEI invasions. I'm no fan of strategic bombing, but on the heels of the sudden destruction of the IJN carrier fleet, the likely impending defeat of the IJN in SE Asia, and an essentially unstoppable bombing campaign over the capital, it wouldn't be terribly surprising to see the Japanese sue for peace. Of course, even the Nimitz couldn't stay on station indefinitely; eventually ordnance and jet fuel would run short, forcing Nimitz to retire (potentially for an extended period of time). [...]
The other big question (which Final Countdown does not touch upon) would be the availability of nuclear weapons onboard Nimitz. I simply don't know enough about nuclear weapons policy on USN carriers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but it wouldn't be terribly surprising to find that Nimitz carried nukes. This would pose very interesting challenges; with sufficient weapons, Nimitz very likely could end both the Pacific and European wars before the end of 1942. Explaining the power of nuclear weapons to Roosevelt would be a challenge, as would convincing him not to use them, if Yelland and co. were even interested in going that direction.
Link -via Ace of Spades HQ | Image: United Artists
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