Information

Soryu under B-17 attack during Battle of Midway


Midway: Dauntless Victory, Fresh Perspectives on America's Seminal Naval Victory of World War II, Peter C. Smith. A very detailed and well researched account of the battle of Midway and of the historical debate that still surrounds it, supported by a mass of original documents and interviews with participants. An invaluable look at this crucial battle. [see more]


The Battle of Midway Turned the Tide of World War II

The Battle of Midway, which took place on June 4-6, 1942, turned the tide of World War II. Prior to Midway, the Empire of Japan was on a constant quest for expansion. After its epic defeat, Japan would be fighting a defensive war attempting to holding its gains.

The outnumbered American fleet, with courage, tenacity, and no shortage of luck, destroyed the cream of Japan’s aircraft carrier force at Midway. The turning of the war took place in the space of just five minutes delivering a cataclysmic blow that wiped out the aura of invincibility of the Japanese fleet. The Japanese lost half of their carrier strength and their best aircrews. These would prove to be irreplaceable.

At Midway, the Rising Sun began to set.


Science 2.0 Links

In December of 1941, Japan launched an attack on America at Pearl Harbor, worried that if they didn't do something quickly to cripple the American fleet, they would be starved of oil slowly and lose if America eventually entered anyway.

Oddly, Germany then declared war on America to support its Axis ally.

Both countries underestimated American manufacturing capacity.

In April, the Doolittle Raid bombed Tokyo, in May the world saw its first combined air-sea battle, the Battle of Coral Sea, and in June the U.S. Navy intercepted a Japanese invasion fleet heading for Midway Island.


The cruier USS Atlanta (CL-51) ) and destroyer USS Phelps (DD-360) screening the carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) on June 6, 1942. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

The resulting Battle of Midway was an overwhelming victory for the United States, though it lost two ships, the carrier Yorktown and then the destroyer screening ship Hammann as it attempted to rescue crew from the Yorktown. On the Japanese side, four of the six aircraft carriers they brought, the Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū and Hiryū, were sunk, as was the heavy cruiser screening ship Mikuma. Last week, the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga was found, part of an effort by the Petrel Mission to locate all of the wrecks.

Now another has been spotted.


Akagi? Credit: RV Petrel

Either the Akagi or the Soryu has been located under nearly 18,000 feet of water off the coast of Midway, which is at the northern end of the Hawaiian island chain. The Japanese were intent on destroying the American fleet to prevent another bombing of Tokyo while solidifying their territories but were concerned about bombers on Pearl Harbor so they had chosen Midway to draw in the American fleet. But they underestimated American strength dramatically. The sunk Hammann, for example, had come all the way from Iceland.


The Japanese Story of theBattle of Midway

    First Air Fleet Secret #38 of 6.
      15 June 1942
      Midway operation From 27 May 1942 to 9 June 1942.

      Headquarters, First Air Fleet.

    CINC FIRST AIR FLEET DETAILED BATTLE REPORT NO. 6 TABLE OF CONTENTS

      1. Organization.
      2. Organization of Attack Units:
        1. Attack on Midway.
        2. First Attack on Enemy Carriers.
        3. Second Attack on Enemy Carriers.
          1. Actual Conditions in the Midway area.
          2. Enemy Carriers.
          3. Attacking planes of the Enemy.
          1. Attack on Midway.
          2. First Attack on Enemy Carriers.
          3. Second Attack on Enemy Carriers.
          4. Action of Cover Units.
          5. Action of AA Units.
          6. Enemy Action and Damages suffered by us.
            War Diary (Abbreviated).
            [This part is missing from the document.- Ed.]
        1. Attack on Midway:
          1. Military Installations.
          2. Aircraft.
          1. Surface Vessels (Outline).
          2. Aircraft (destroyed).
          3. Personnel (killed).
          1. Battle Lessons (Separate Volume).
          2. Weather Charts.
          3. Mobile Force's Operation Order #34.

            SUPPLEMENT TO FIRST AIR FLEET SECRET FILE # 37 OF 6.
            MOBILE FORCE DETAILED BATTLE REPORT #6.
            FIRST AIR FLEET DETAILED BATTLE REPORT #6.
            OCCUPATION OF MIDWAY OPERATIONS, 27 MAY 1942 - 6 JUNE 1942.

          PART I.EXISTING CONDITIONS AND TRENDS

          PART II.PLANS

            Fleet Organization and Composition Immediately Prior to Motivation of the Operation.

              (see Supplementary Table):

          1. Secret Combined Fleet OpOrd #12. Combined Fleet's Second Phase Operation Order.

          2. Secret Combined Fleet OpOrd #13. Communication plans of Combined Fleet for Second Phase Operation.

          3. Secret Combined Fleet OpOrd #14. Co-ordination of Movements of Various Forces involved in the MI (Midway) and AL (Aleutians) Operations.

          1. Torpedo Attacks:

            During the middle part of May, mock torpedo attacks were carried out, with judges from the Yokosuka Air Group acting as referees. The records during these tests were so disappointing that some were moved to comment that it was almost a mystery how men with such poor ability could have obtained such brilliant results as they had in the Coral Sea.

            On 18 May, actual tests were made against CruDiv 8 traveling at high speed. In spite of the fact that the speed was 30 knots with only 45-degree turns, the records made by the fliers were again exceedingly poor. With water depth at 40 to 50 meters, about a third of the torpedoes were lost.

          2. Level Bombing:

            Bomber leaders were concentrated at Iwakuni and practiced level bombing using the Settsu2 as a target ship. The men attained a fair degree of skill, but they had no opportunity to participate in any formation bombing drills.

          3. Dive Bombing:

            Since the Settsu was limited to the waters in the vicinity of Naikai Seibu (Western Inland Sea) valuable time was wasted by the fliers in coming and going. The men could not participate in more than one dive bombing drill a day without seriously interfering with their basic training. Even this minimum practice could not be conducted satisfactorily because the men were kept busy with maintenance work.

            1. Air Combat:

              Men engaged in this phase were able to get no further than to actual firing and basic training for lone air combat operations. The more experienced were employed in formation air combat tactics, but even they were limited to about a three-plane formation.

            2. Landing:

              Since the carriers were undergoing repair and maintenance operations, the only available ship for take-off and landing drills was the Kaga. She was kept busy from early morning to nightfall but even at that the young fliers barely were able to learn the rudiments of carrier landings. The more seasoned fliers were given about one chance each to make dusk landings.

            3. Night Flying:

              Insofar as the weather permitted, men were trained in this phase every day. Due to maintenance needs and because of the limited time, only the very fundamentals were learned by the inexperienced fliers.

              Because of the need for replacements and transfers of personnel, the combat efficiency of each ship had been greatly lowered. Moreover, since most of the ships were undergoing maintenance and repair work until only a few days before departure, the men's efficiency suffered greatly.

              Training in group formations could not be satisfactorily conducted because of the limitation in time. This was particularly true of the newly formed DesRon 10. Some of the units in it underwent training as anti-air-screening ships, while others were assigned antisub duties. The squadron as a whole never had the opportunity to carry out joint drills.

              That was the situation as far as fleet training was concerned. Added to this, we had practically no intelligence concerning the enemy. We never knew to the end where or how many enemy carriers there were. In other words, we participated in this operation with meager training and without knowing the enemy.

            PART III.DESCRIPTION OF THE OPERATION

            1. Direction of Operation by the Commander and his Movements

              The Mobile Force departed Hashira Jima at 0600 17 May. Maintaining strict anti-sub screen and a rigid radio silence, the force headed for the area to the northwest of Midway following course 1 as given in Mobile Force Secret OpOrd 35.

              On 1 and 2 June, 4 all ships were refueled.

              Visibility steadily decreased from about 1000 2 June so that by 2300 on the 3d, all ships were being navigated blindly. No visual signals could be employed during this period. Since there seemed little likelihood of the fog's lifting, the radio was used as a last resort at 1030 on the 3d (long wave) to give change of course.

              Shortly after this, the fog lifted somewhat, making visual signals barely possible. By the morning of the 4th visibility on the surface improved greatly, but there were scattered clouds overhead.

              At 1640 the Tone reported sighting about 10 enemy planes bearing 260 degrees. Three fighters immediately took off from the Akagi in pursuit of these but they were unable to sight the enemy. There is some element of doubt in the reported sighting.

              At about 2330 on the same day, the Akagi twice sighted what was thought to be enemy planes weav-

              ing in and out of the clouds. All hands were immediately ordered to battle stations. There is considerable doubt as to the reliability of this sighting.

              At 0130 on the 5th, 5 under command of flight officer of the Hiryu, Lieut. Tomonaga, Organization #5 composed of 36 ship-based fighters, 36 ship-based bombers, and 36 ship-based torpedo planes, took off to attack Midway.

              Between 0130 and 0200, 1 ship-based torpedo plane each from Akagi and Kaga, 2 Type 0 Float Recco each from Tone and Chikuma (distance 300 miles, to the left 60 miles) and 1 Type-95 Float Recco from the Haruna (distance 150 miles, to the left 40 miles), took off in search of enemy task forces to the South and to the East.

              From about 0230, two to three enemy flying boats maintained continuous contact with us.

              Shortly after taking off, the attack unit was contacted by enemy flying boats. When about 30 miles short of the target on Midway, the above mentioned flying boats suddenly dropped illumination bombs over our attack plane units to attract overhead cover fighters.

              Thereafter, while engaging in bitter air combats, bombs were dropped on military installations on Midway between about 0345 and 0410. Fires resulted. All but 2 ship-based fighters, 1 ship-based bomber and 3 ship-based torpedo planes returned to their carriers by about 0600.

              After our attack unit had taken off, enemy flying boats maintained contact with us. At about 0400 the first enemy wave attacked. From then until about 0730, the enemy attacked almost continuously. We counter attacked with fighters and AA fire and were able to bring most of the attackers down by 0645. About 30 carrier-based bombers then attacked us resulting in fires aboard the Akagi,Kaga, and Soryu, forcing them to fall behind and leaving only the Hiryu untouched.

              Prior to this and subsequent to the take off of the initial attack unit, the fleet had Organization Number 4 (ship-based torpedo planes) stand by in readiness to act against any enemy surface vessels. However, at 0415, the command plane of the Hiryu radioed that:

              "There is a necessity for carrying out a second attack (0400)."

            It was decided, therefore, that a second attack would be directed against Midway. Orders were issued for the ship-based attack planes to remove their torpedoes and replace them with #80 land hombs.

            At about 0500, Tone's #4 plane reported:

            Two subsequent reports concerning the weather (0440) and the enemy's course and speed (0455) were received but since we had not been advised of details, the plane was ordered to:

            At 0530, Tone's plane reported:

            Thus, it was definitely established that enemy carriers were operating in the vicinity. The following dispatch was, therefore, sent to CinC Combined Fleet:

            Under orders issued at 0415, the ship-based attack planes were already being re-equipped with #80 land bombs which made immediate take-offs of the ship-based attack planes in Organization Number 4, impossible. It was therefore decided that we would await the return of the Midway attack unit and then carry out a grand scale air attack. The Fleet was advised as follows:

              While we were engaged in this, the enemy struck. Communication facilities were knocked out of all damaged ships. There was little likelihood of the fires being extinguished in the immediate future. For these reasons, I decided to direct the operations from the Nagara, and transferred to her at 0830.

              After our ships had been damaged, the commander of CarDiv 2 decided to carry out the attack against the enemy carrier sighted by Tone's float recco plane. At 0758, Hiryu's attack unit (6 fighters and 18 bombers) took off and carried out the attack. Direct hits by 5 #25 ordinary and 1 land bombs were scored on an Enterprise class carrier, inflicting serious damage to her (possibly sinking her).

              Prior to this, at 0530, a type 13 experimental ship-based bomber from the Soryu was ordered to maintain contact with the enemy carrier but due to break-down in radio facilities, it was not known until the return of this plane that, in addition to the aforementioned, there was a task force which had as its nucleus a carrier of the Enterprise class and another of the Hornet class. This task force was operating in waters to the north of the other one.

              With this information at hand, the Hiryu attack unit (4 fighters and 9 torpedo planes, supplemented by 2 fighters from the Kaga and 1 torpedo plane from the Akagi) was ordered to the attack. Three torpedo hits were scored on a carrier of the Enterprise class, seriously damaging her. Heavy damages were also inflicted on a heavy cruiser of the San Francisco class.

              NOTES

              Report of Chikuma's recco plane at 1413, 5th:

              1. Sighted an enemy carrier of the Enterprise class listing and stopped in position 30-15N, l76-50W. (No evidence of fire. No damage to flight deck.) Three cruisers and 5 destroyers were in the vicinity. At about 1420, leaving the carrier on the scene, the others proceeded eastward on course 80 degrees, speed 20 knots.

              2. Sighted 2 enemy carriers (Yorktown or Hornet class) at 1510, in position 30-23N, 176-05W. Each was being directly escorted by 2 cruisers and 4 destroyers. Distance between the two groups, 3 miles course 270 degrees speed 12 knots.

              3. Two other carriers (class undetermined) escorted by 5 cruisers and 6 destroyers sighted at 1516 in a position about 4 miles to the south of the others. Course 260 degrees, speed 12 knots.

              4. Since the above sightings were made by the #2 plane while it was proceeding southward on a course of about 180 degrees from about 1500, and were seen one after another along this line, there is no chance of duplication. 6 Moreover, sightings described in (b) and (c) above, were from below cloud level, or at about 300 meters altitude.

              1. AKAGI

                The enemy attack unit which carried out a sustained attack from about 0400 was almost totally destroyed by friendly cover fighters. Up to 0650, our surface units had suffered practically no damage and the skies were clear of enemy planes.

                At 0700, the second wave struck. Fourteen enemy torpedo planes, splitting into two groups approached from the northwest. One group carried out a torpedo attack against the Kaga and was followed up with several planes dive-bombing her.

                At 0706, enemy torpedo planes were sighted bearing 118 degrees. To minimize the target area, the Akagi turned to course 300 degrees and stayed on this course. At a time when all of our surface

                  units had maneuvered themselves into maximum defense against the torpedo planes, enemy dive bombers were suddenly noted among the clouds overhead at 0726. Resorting to evasive tactics, every effort was made to avoid the bombs, but one direct hit was sustained on the aft rim of the lift amidship and another on the rear guard of the port flight deck. (Neither were fatal hits.)

                  Since the Akagi was at the time preparing to carry out the second attack, the fire spread over the entire hangar area and with induced explosions, the fire gradually moved from the aft quarters, forward with great intensity, spreading even to the immediate vicinity of the bridge.

                  Ammunition rooms were immediately ordered flooded, and all hands were ordered to fire-fighting stations. The pump system aboard, however, failed to function and it became apparent that the fire would not be extinguishable in the immediate future. The headquarters, therefore, was moved to the Nagara at 0746. Subsequent to this, every effort was made to bring the fire under control but it became increasingly evident that there would be little hope of success.

                  At 1038, the Emperor's portrait was transferred to the destroyer Nowake. By 1620, the situation was deemed hopeless, and the captain of the Akagi decided to order all hands to abandon ship. A report to that effect was made to the commander of the Mobile Force and the order was issued at 1625. Personnel began transferring to the destroyers Arashi and Nowake at 1700. At 1925 CinC Combined Fleet ordered: "Delay disposition." While standing by awaiting further orders, CinC Combined Fleet ordered: "Dispose," at 0150 on the 6th. In accordance with this order, the ship was scuttled at 0200, in position 30-30N, 178-40W.

                1. KAGA

                  Against enemy torpedo plane attacks which were carried out after 0400, AA fire and evasive action proved completely successful. While still engaged in evasive action at about 0715 against the persistent enemy torpedo planes, 9 enemy dive bombers were suddenly sighted among the clouds at 0722. Every effort was made to counter these through evasive action and AA fire cover. These efforts were successful against the first, second, and third bombs, but #4 hit starboard, aft, while #7 was a direct hit in the vicinity of the forward elevator. Glass on the bridge was shattered and because of the smoke from the bombs, visibility from that point was reduced to zero. The captain ordered emergency steering apparatus put in operation. Bomb #8 hit in the vicinity of the forward elevator. Practically nothing of the bridge remained after this hit. All persons who were on the bridge at the time, including the captain, were killed in action. Bomb #9 also hit amidship. Fire-fighting was conducted under the direction of the air officer, but since there seemed to be little hope of getting the fire under control, the Emperor's portrait was transferred to the Hagikaze at 1025. The situation became hopeless by 1340 and all hands were ordered to abandon ship. They were transferred to the destroyers Hagikaze and Maikaze. The fire on board spread to both the forward and aft fuel tanks by 1625, causing two great explosions and the ship's sinking. Position of Kaga's sinking: 30-20.3N, 179-17.2W.

                2. HIRYU

                  Fire broke out as a result of dive-bombing attacks by 13 enemy dive bombers at 1403. From then until 1803 she resorted to evasive action under battle speed #1, while efforts were made to escape from the battle area and to fight fires. The flames could not be brought under control, however, and the fires killed one man after another in the engine rooms until further operation of the ship became impossible. Telephone communications with the engine rooms were maintained until the last. The manner in which the engine room personnel from Engineer Commander Kunizo Aimune down to the last man, carried on in the face of death which finally overtook them, can only be described as heroic.

                  The ship's list, due to shipping water, constantly increased to about 15 degrees.

                  At 2058, it seemed as if the fires might be brought under control, but at that time there was another induced explosion and the fierce fires were rekindled. It became evident that further fire-fightng operations were useless and all hands were ordered to prepare to abandon ship at 2330. At 2350 Captain Tomeo Kaki and Squadron Commander Rear-Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi delivered messages to the crew. This was followed by expressions of reverence and respect to the Emperor, the shouting of Banzai's, the lowering of the battle flag and command flag. At 0015, all hands were ordered to abandon ship, His Imperial Highness' portrait removed, and the transfer of personnel to the destroyers Kazagumo and Makigumo put underway. The transfer of portrait and men was completed at 0130.

                    After completion of the transfer operations, the Division Commander and Captain remained aboard ship. They waved their caps to their men and with complete composure joined their fate with that of their ship.

                    At 0210 the Hiryu was scuttled by torpedo (1) from the Makigumo. Position of Hiryu's scuttling: 31-27.5N, 179-23.5W.

                    SORYU

                    The Soryu was attacked by 13 dive bombers from 0725. Three hits were scored on her at 0725, 0726, and 0728. By 0730, the fires quickly spread and caused induced explosions from the bomb-storage room, torpedo-storage room, AA and machine-gun-ammunition rooms as well as from gasoline tanks. Fires enveloped the entire ship in no time. By 0740 both engines had stopped. At 0743, attempts were made to steer her, but with the entire ship in flames, she was helpless. "Abandon ship" was ordered at 0745.

                    While most of the officers and men, including the Executive officer, had congregated on deck, having been forced to leave their posts due to the flames, a terrific explosion occurred. The explosion sent them flying into the water.

                    Every effort was made to pick these men up and put them on the forward deck. Medical aid was given those needing it there. Transfers to the destroyers Hamakaze and Isonami were completed at about 1600.

                    As soon as the fires broke out aboard ship, the captain, Ryusaku Yanagimoto, appeared on the signal tower to the starboard of the bridge. He took command from this post and pleaded that his men seek shelter and safety. He would allow no man to approach him. Flames surrounded him but he refused to give up his post. He was shouting "Banzai" over and over again when heroic death overtook him.

                    Fires died down somewhat by about 1600, and the air officer who was the acting commander, organized fire fighters with the intention of reboarding the ship. However, the ship sank 7 at 1613 and there was a great underwater explosion at 1620.

                    Position: 30-42.5N, 178-37.5W.

                    At 0828, after the headquarters had been transferred to the Nagara, a plane from the Chikuma reported: "The enemy is in position bearing 70 degrees, distance 90 miles from us (0810)." It was decided that the enemy would be destroyed in a daytime attack. Therefore, the following order was issued at 0853: "We are now going to attack. Assemble." At 0900, our course was set at 60 degrees, speed 16 knots at 0945, course 0 degrees, speed 20 knots 1000, speed 24 knots.

                    At 1045, the enemy changed its course to 90 degrees and the opportunity for battle seemed to be close at hand. Somewhat later, Tone's #4 plane reported: "The enemy is in position bearing 114 degrees, distance 110 miles from my position of 1230." From this it became evident that the enemy was trying to put distance between himself and us.

                    It was deemed that if under these conditions, the enemy chose to strike, we would be at a distinct disadvantage in that we would be unable to carry out a decisive battle.

                    We, therefore, turned about and proceeded westward, with the expectation of destroying the enemy in a night encounter.

                    Prior to this, at 1120, the following order was issued to the Second Mobile Force:

                    "The First Mobile Force is in (grid) position TO E WO 33 at 1100, 5th. After destroying enemy striking force to the east, we plan to proceed northward. The Second Mobile Force will rendezvous with us as soon as possible. Our (grid) position at 1130 will be: YU YU KE 44, on course 285, speed 24 knots. Plan to rendezvous with Landing Force at 1600."

                  While thus laying plans for the night attack, the Hiryu also broke out in flames at 1405. That meant that while all four of our carriers had been lost, the enemy had at least one. Moreover, as long as we were in the operational radius of their shore-based air, we would be at a very distinct disadvantage.

                  By 1433, the enemy began to retreat to the east on course 70, speed 20 knots, which further reduced our hopes for a night engagement. However, we still were determined to carry it out. Nagara's plane was ordered to prepare for a take-off and all the ships were ordered to assemble in the vicinity of the Nagara. At 1450, CinC Second Fleet, issued the orders for the night battle.

                  At 1530, the commander of DesDiv 4 ordered the destroyers under his command to stand by the various carriers assigned to them and to protect them from enemy submarines and task forces.

                  At about this time the commander of the Chikuma made the following report:

                      This was the first inkling we had of the overwhelming superiority of the enemy's carrier strength. Since we were not able to maintain contact with this task force after sundown, our hopes of a successful night engagement were further reduced.

                    At 1615, the following order was received from CinC Combined Fleet:

                    "Combined Fleet Secret Despatch #298.
                    "Combined Fleet DesOpOrd #158:

                    "1. The enemy task force has retired to the east. Its carrier strength has practically been destroyed.
                    "2. The Combined Fleet units in that area, plan to overtake and destroy this enemy, and, at the same time, occupy AF (Midway).
                    "3. The Main Body was in position (grid) FU ME RI 32 at 0000, 6th. Course 90 degrees, speed 20 knots.
                    "4. The Mobile Force, Occupation Force (less CruDiv 7) and Advance Force [Submarine] will contact and destroy the enemy as soon as possible."

                    It was evident that the above message was sent as a result of an erroneous estimate of the enemy, for he still had 4 carriers in operational condition and his shore-based air on Midway was active.

                    Therefore, the following message was sent:

                    "Mobile Force Secret despatch #560.

                    "Enemy has a total of 5 carriers, 6 cruisers, and 15 destroyers which are proceeding west from the vicinity of (grid) position TO SU WA 15 (at 1530). While offering protection to the Hiryu we are retiring northwestward. Speed 18 knots. 1830 (grid) position: FU N RE 55."

                    Although we had already reported the existing situation, we again sent the following despatch at 1950:

                    "Re Combined Fleet DesOpOrd #158.

                    "The enemy still has 4 carriers (may include special type carriers), 6 cruisers, and 15 destroyers which are at present proceeding westward. All the carriers of our force have become inoperational. We plan to contact the enemy with float reconnaissance planes tomorrow morning."

                    A follow-up message reading: "Mobile Force Secret despatch #562. Re Mobile Force Secret Despatch- #561: 2 of the carriers involved are of the Hornet class, speed 24 knots. Type of the other two are unknown," was sent.

                    We were not in contact with the enemy at that time and our destroyers had been assigned to the damaged carriers. Moreover, the enemy was approximately 100 miles away which made a night engagement by us almost out of the question. Every effort, instead, was made to save the Hiryu.

                    At 2040, the following order was received from ComOccupation Force:

                    "Second Fleet Secret Despatch #761.

                    "1. The support for the Occupation Force reached position (grid) TO E WA 12 at 0000, 6th. We plan to carry out searches to the east and to participate in the night attack described in Mobile Force's Secret Despatch #560.
                    "2. The Mobile Force (excepting the Hiryu, Akagi, and their respective escorts), will immediately turn about and participate in the Occupation Force's night engagement."

                    While complying with the orders issued by the Combined Fleet and the Second Fleet, orders were received from the Combined Fleet to rendezvous, which were complied with.

                    The following was received from the Combined Fleet at 0430, 6th:

                    "Combined Fleet's Secret Despatch #310.

                    "Has the Hiryu sunk? Advise situation and position."

                    So, it became evident that the Hiryu's sinking was not as yet certain to CinC Combined Fleet. Moreover, a friendly plane reported that the Hiryu was still afloat. Therefore, a plane from the Nagara was sent out in search for her and at the same time the destroyer Tanikaze was despatched to dispose of her. Neither could sight the target, so it is assumed that she had sunk.

                    From about 1500, 6th, the Tanikaze was subjected to attacks from about 50 enemy planes. She fought well without any support from any other units, and managed to down 4 of the enemy planes.

                    Akagi in an early phase of the Battle of Midway.
                    Photo by Army Air Force.

                    "Following changes will be made in the antisub air patrols for tomorrow, the 5th:

                    "1. Allocation: For Watches 1 and 3, one plane each from all ships of CruDiv 8. For Watches 2 and 4, one plane each from all ships of BatDiv 3. For Watch 5, one plane each from Chikuma and Kirishima.

                    "2. Take off times (from Watch 1 through Watch 5 in order): 0130, 0430, 0730, 1030, 1330."

                    "Combined Fleet Secret Despatch #295. Combined Fleet DesOpOrd #156.

                    "1. Employ Method (C) (?) in attacking enemy fleet.
                    "2 The Occupation Force will assign a portion of its force to shell and destroy enemy air bases on AF (Midway). The occupation of AF (Midway), and AO (Kiska) are temporarily postponed."

                      #1, 90 degrees
                      #2, 102 degrees Chikuma.
                      #3, 115 degrees Tone.
                      #4, 127 degrees Haruna.
                      #5, 140 degrees Haruna.
                      #6, 165 degrees Kirishima.
                      #7, 173 degrees Kirishima
                    "Combined Fleet Secret Despatch #303.

                    "1. The Occupation Force (less the Landing Force which is standing by, and plus CruDiv 7) and the Mobile Force (less Akagi, Hiryu, and their respective escorts) will rendezvous with the Main Unit.
                    "2. The Main Unit will be in position (grid) FU RU RI 31, and on course 90 degrees, speed 20 knots at 0600 tomorrow morning."

                    "Report of Chikuma's #2 plane on 5 June:

                    "1. At 1413 sighted an enemy carrier of the Enterprise class in position 30-15N, 176-50W listing and burning but with undamaged flight deck. Three cruisers and 5 destroyers were in her vicinity. At about 1420, all departed from the scene with the exception of the carrier, on course 80 degrees.
                    "2. At 1510 sighted 2 carriers of the Yorktown or Hornet class with 2 cruisers and 4 destroyers acting as direct escorts in position 30-23N, 176-05W. Distance between the two units was about 3 miles. Course 270 degrees, speed 12 knots.

                    "Losses sustained yesterday:

                    "1. One type-0 plane (#5 plane). Apparently intercepted by enemy fighters while trying to maintain contact with the enemy. Failed to return. Three persons assumed died in action.
                    "2. One cutter despatched to rescue Soryu's crew, was not taken aboard. It is presumed that the men, including one pharmacist's mate, were taken aboard the Hamakaze."

                    "#3. Damages sustained by this force yesterday were as follows:

                    "1. Tone: Subjected to two dive bombing attacks and a total of 9 bombs 6 near misses. Level bombed 3 times.
                    "2. Chikuma: Subjected to one dive bombing attack consisting of 4 bombs. Level bombed 3 times. 1 near miss, 30 meters.

                      Actual conditions in the Midway area:

                    The enemy apparently anticipated our attack and had their attack planes and flying boats take off. They also concentrated about 50 fighters (all Grummans), and intercepted our first attack wave at a point approximately 30 miles short of our target. When we subjected these to fierce counterattacks, however, they were put on the defensive and engaged, for the most part, in evasive maneuvers. Our ship-based attack planes and bombers suffered no casualties from enemy interceptors while the greater part of their fighters were brought down by us. Results we obtained were 41 enemy ship-based fighters, 1 ship-based bomber and 1 float recco shot down. We lost 4 planes from the exceedingly hot enemy AA fire, so our total losses including 2 which were scuttled during air engagements, were 6 planes.

                    Twelve bomb hits were scored by us on two enemy runways with #80 land bombs, but these were insufficient to render them inoperational, since the large shore-based attack planes were very active subsequently. We are of the opinion that it is impractical to attempt to render such air fields as these inoperational through bombings.

                    Intelligence obtained from enemy POW's with regards to Midway is as follows (POW taken aboard the Makigumo):

                    Our search planes were scheduled to take off at 0130 or 30 minutes before dawn, but the take offs of the float recco planes were delayed as shown below:

                        Moreover, as can clearly be seen by the search chart, the search plane on #5 search line which should have sighted the enemy failed to do so while the plane on #4 search line sighted him at 0428 while on his return run and reported it as follows: "Sight what appears to be the enemy composed of 10 ships in position bearing 10 degrees, distance 240 miles from Midway. He is on course 150 degrees, speed 20 knots. (0428.)" Subsequently he advised us of the weather conditions in the vicinity of the enemy, and again that "The enemy has changed to course 80 degrees, speed 20 knots." Since, however, he failed to report on the type of ships that he had sighted, he was ordered to do so. At 0509 he reported that the enemy was composed of 5 cruisers and 5 destroyers and again at 0520 that the above formation was accompanied by what appeared to be a carrier to its rear. This was the first reference to an enemy carrier. Subsequent to this and until the ship based recco plane returned, we received conflicting reports, numbering the carriers at three, making it impossible for us to estimate the enemy strength.

                        Later, at 0910, 4 fighters and 18 bombers from CarDiv 2 (less Soryu) bombed and sunk (seriously damaged) an enemy carrier. At 1000, it was learned from an enemy POW who was an air crew member from the Yorktown, that 3 carriers namely, Yorktown,Enterprise, and Hornet were in the vicinity. This information together with our air recco made it possible for us to estimate that the enemy carrier strength was 3.

                        At 1145, 6 fighters and 10 torpedo planes from the Hiryu carried out the second attack on enemy carriers and succeeded in seriously damaging (sinking) another carrier.

                        This should have left only 1 enemy carrier in a healthy condition. But at 1530, the captain of the Chikuma reported that according to his #2 plane, there were 4 enemy carriers, 6 cruisers, and 15 destroyers in position about 30 miles to the east of the listing and burning enemy carrier. This sighting was made at 1413. The ships were reportedly proceeding westward.

                        Then we were at a complete loss as to estimating the number of remaining enemy carriers.

                        The enemy carrier which was bombed by us at 0910 was hit with 5 #25 ordinary and 1 #25 land bomb. Judging from the hour of the enemy's first attack on us, it is estimated that he was preparing for his second attack wave. Therefore, we probably inflicted considerable damage on him.

                        Subsequent searches failed to locate the damaged carrier so the probability of its sinking is very good. The damaged carrier which was located by Chikuma's #4 plane at 0352 on the 6th and later sunk by our submarine was most likely the carrier torpedoed by our planes at 1145, judging from the fact that her flight decks were undamaged.

                        Pertinent facts concerning the POW picked up by the Arashi, and his testimony were as follows:

                        His plane which was from the U.S. carrier Yorktown, was shot down in position 30-30N, 178-40W on 5 June. He died on 6 June and was buried at sea. The following information was obtained from him:

                        1. POW's name and rank: 9
                        2. Place of birth: Chicago.
                        3. Age: 23.
                        4. Point of debarkation: Pearl Harbor.
                        5. Destination: Vicinity of Midway.
                        6. Other items:

                        7. Enemy task force strength: 3 carriers (Yorktown,Enterprise,Hornet).
                          6 cruisers about 10 destroyers.
                        8. The Yorktown, 2 cruisers, and 3 destroyers formed one group, and was separated from the other forces.
                        9. Sortied from Pearl Harbor during the morning of 31 May, arriving in the vicinity of Midway on 2 June. Since then, this group had been carrying out a mobile patrol along a north-south line.
                        10. There were no battleships in Pearl Harbor on 31 May. (The POW engaged in base training until 31 May, and therefore had no detailed knowledge of battleship movements in the Hawaii area.)
                        11. Air strength on the island of Oahu:
                          Navy had about 200 to 300 planes (including 20 flying boats) the principal base was on Ford Island POW had no detailed knowledge of the Army, but believed that it had several hundred planes there.
                        12. Base for carrier plane drills: Kaneohe, on Oahu.
                        13. Types (numbers) of aircraft on the Yorktown: Bombers (18) Recco (18) Torpedo planes. (12) Fighters (27).
                            1. meters. Squadron 1 scored a hit on the fuel storage tank at the northeast tip of Sand Island squadron 2 attacked and partially destroyed an AA gun emplacement on the east side of Sand Island squadron 3 destroyed a flying boat take-off platform on Sand Island.
                              Losses: Two in air engagement and two from AA guns.

                              (Soryu attack unit.)

                              Date: 5 June.
                              Weather: Cloudy amount of clouds, 8 ceiling, 500 to 1,000 meters visibility, 40 kilometers.
                              Mission: Neutralization of AA fire attacks on airfield and installations on Sand Island.
                              Commander: Lieut. Tomonaga, Air Officer of the Hiryu.
                              Group Commander: Under direct command.
                              Commander on base carrier: Lieut. Abe, Soryu's Division Commander.
                              Type and number of aircraft: 18 ship-based attack planes.
                              Base: Soryu.
                              Air combat: Encountered 30 to 40 F4F-3's at a point about 20 miles from Midway. Three (of which one uncertain) enemy F4F-3's shot down.
                              Weather at scene of target: Clear amount of cloud, 1 to 2 ceiling, 500 meters visibility, 60 kilometers.
                              Ammunition expended: 18 #80 land bombs 4,510 rounds of 7.7 mm. machine gun bullets.
                              Time of attack and results obtained: Bombing attacks were carried out between 0334 and 0335. Squadron one attacked and silenced an AA gun emplacement on Sand Island (altitude: 2,700 meters) squadron two destroyed a runway on Eastern Island Airfield (altitude: 3,400 meters) squadron three attacked hangars on Eastern Island, setting one on fire and also setting one B-17 on fire.
                              Losses: 1 from aircraft all planes had bullet holes.

                              (Akagi) (fighters)

                              Date: 5 June.
                              Weather: Cloudy amount of clouds, 8 ceiling, 500 to 1,000 meters visibility, 40 kilometers.
                              Mission: To attack enemy aircraft both in the air and on the ground.
                              Commander: Lieut. Tomonaga, Air Officer of the Hiryu.
                              Group Commander: Soryu Division Commander, Lieut. Suganami.
                              Commander on base carrier: Akagi Division Commander, Lieut. Shirane.
                              Type and Number of Aircraft: 9 ship-based fighters.
                              Base: Akagi.
                              Air combat:

                              1. From 0320 to 0340, engaged 3 enemy Grumman fighters flying 10 meters apart at an altitude of 4,500 meters. Two of the enemy were shot down.
                              2. At 0320 two Grummans were shot down while flying at an altitude of 3,700 meters in the vicinity of Eastern Island. A coordinated attack was made by two Grummans at 0340 and they were both shot down (uncertain).
                              3. Engaged 3 Grummans at 0320 and shot down two.
                              4. Engaged 3 Grummans at 0320 and shot down one.
                              5. Engaged 1 Grumman at 0320 and shot him down.
                              6. Engaged 2 Grummans at 0320 and shot one down.
                              1. At 0320 seriously damaged one B-17 on the ground.
                              2. At 0330 machine-gunned but failed to set afire one B-17.

                                  At about 0510, 1 enemy bomber shot down while preparing to land on carrier. (Air cover result.)
                                  Results Obtained: 1 fighter and 1 B-17 strafed on the ground and destroyed over 9 fighters, 2 bombers and 1 float recco plane shot down.
                                  Losses: 1 in the air 1 from AA fire 1 person other than those on lost planes, killed.

                                  (Hiryu fighters)

                                  Date 5 June.
                                  Weather: Cloudy amount of clouds, 8 ceiling, 500 to 1,000 meters visibility, 40 kilometers.
                                  Mission: To attack enemy planes in the air and on the ground at Midway.
                                  Commander: Lieut. Tomonaga, Air Officer of the Hiryu.
                                  Group Commander: Soryu Division Commander, Lieut. Suganami.
                                  Commander on base carrier: Hiryu Division Commander, Lieut. Shigematsu.
                                  Type and Number of Aircraft: 9 ship-based fighters.
                                  Base: Hiryu.
                                  Air Engagements: Engaged 30 to 40 Grumman fighters from 0317 to 0332 and shot down 18 (of which 4 uncertain). After returning to carrier, engaged a group of enemy attack planes over the carrier.
                                  Weather in Target Area: Clear amount of cloud, 1 to 2 ceiling, 500 meters visibility, 60 kilometers.
                                  Ammunition Expended: 990 20 mm. machine gun bullets 6,000 7.7 mm. machine gun bullets.
                                  Results Obtained: 18 Grummans (of which 4 uncertain) shot down.
                                  Losses: 9 suffered hits (of which 2 became inoperational).

                                  (Soryu fighters)

                                  Date: 5 June.
                                  Weather: Cloudy amount of clouds, 8 ceiling, 500 to 1,000 meters visibility, 40 kilometers.
                                  Mission: To attack enemy planes in the air and on the ground at Midway.
                                  Commander: Lieut. Tomonaga, Air Officer of the Hiryu.
                                  Group Commander: Soryu Division Commander, Lieut. Suganami.
                                  Commander on Base Carrier: Under direct command.
                                  Type and Number of Aircraft: 9 ship-based fighters.
                                  Base: Soryu.
                                  Air Engagements: While escorting our attack planes, a dozen or more enemy Grummans were engaged at a point bearing 20 degrees, distance 15 miles from Midway, at an altitude of 3,500 meters.
                                  The enemy was destroyed.

                                  1. 15th Section: Coordinated action brought down 2 enemy fighters in position bearing 30 degrees, distance 5 miles from Midway, at an altitude of 2,000 meters, at 0325. Another, making a total of 3 was shot down over the airfield at a height of 200 meters.
                                  2. 17th Section: 1 enemy fighter shot down at position bearing 60 degrees, distance 5 miles from Midway at 0327.
                                  3. 17th Section: While acting as direct cover for our attack planes, an enemy Grumman was attacked but it was not brought down.
                                  4. While over our carrier, sighted 10 enemy B-17's proceeding southward. These were attacked, but none were brought down.

                                      (Kaga bombers)

                                      Date: 5 June.
                                      Weather: Cloudy amount of clouds, 8 ceiling, 500 to 1,000 meters visibility, 40 kilometers.
                                      Mission: To attack flying boat hangars and surface ships on and around Sand Island.
                                      Commander Lieut. Tomonaga, Air Officer of the Hiryu.
                                      Group Commander: Kaga Division Commander, Lieut. Ogawa.
                                      Commander on Base Carrier: Under direct command.
                                      Type and Number of Aircraft: 18 ship-based bombers.
                                      Base: Kaga.
                                      Air Engagements: None.
                                      Weather in Target Area: Clear amount of clouds, 1 to 2 ceiling, 500 meters visibility, 60 kilometers.
                                      Ammunition Expended: 18 #25 land bombs.
                                      Results Obtained: 9 hits with #25's scored on flying boat hangars on Sand Island between 0340 and 0343, setting off large fires 1 oil tank set afire.
                                      Losses: 1 plane lost 4 planes hit.

                                    1. First Attack on Enemy Carriers:

                                      (Hiryu bombers)

                                      Date: 5 June.
                                      Weather: Clear amount of clouds, 2 ceiling, 500 to 1,000 meters visibility, 70 kilometers.
                                      Mission: To carry out first attack on enemy carriers.
                                      Commander: Hiryu Division Commander, Lieut. Kobayashi.
                                      Group Commander: Under direct command.
                                      Type and Number of Aircraft: 18 ship-based bombers.
                                      Base: Hiryu.
                                      Air Engagements: Fierce engagements were carried out between 0858 and 0940, during which 2 certain and 1 uncertain enemy Grumman fighters were shot down.
                                      Weather in Target Area: Clear amount of clouds, 2 ceiling, 500 to 1,000 meters visibility, 70 kilometers.
                                      Ammunition Expended: 12 #25 ordinary bombs 6 #25 land bombs 2,854 rounds of 7.7 mm. machine gun bullets.
                                      Results Obtained: Between 0908 and 0912, 5 hits with #25 ordinary and 1 with #25 land bombs were scored on an Enterprise class carrier, setting her afire and causing her to later explode.
                                      Losses: 13 planes "self-exploded."

                                      (Hiryu fighters)

                                      Date and Weather: Same as above.
                                      Commander: Hiryu Division Commander, Lieut. Kobayashi.
                                      Group Commander: Hiryu Division Commander, Lieut. Shigematsu.
                                      Type and Number of Aircraft: 6 ship-based fighters. (Note: 2 of these engaged enemy torpedo planes and did not participate in the attack on the carriers.)
                                      Base: Hiryu.
                                      Air Engagements: A fight to the death was carried out against enemy Grumman fighters between 0858 and 0940. Five of them were definitely shot down and there were two uncertains.
                                      Weather in Target Area: Same as above.
                                      Ammunition Expended: 660 20 mm. machine gun bullets 3,900 7.7 mm. machine gun bullets.
                                      Results Obtained: 5 shot down (2 others, uncertain ).
                                      Losses: 3 planes "self-exploded."

                                    2. Second Attack on Enemy Carriers:

                                      (Hiryu attack)

                                      Date: 5 June.
                                      Weather: Clear amount of clouds, 4 ceiling, 3,000 meters with some clouds at 500 meters visibility, 70 kilometers.
                                      Mission: To carry out second attack on enemy carriers.
                                      Commander: Hiryu Air Officer, Lieut. Tomonaga.
                                      Group Commander: Under direct command.
                                      Type and Number of Aircraft: 9 ship-based attack planes and one additional ship-based attack plane from the Akagi.
                                      Base: Hiryu.
                                      Air Engagements: Fierce battles carried out between 1141 and 1146, during which 1 certain and 1 uncertain Grummans were shot down.
                                      Weather in Target Area: Clear amount of clouds, 4 ceiling, 3,000 meters with some clouds at 500 meters visibility, 70 kilometers.
                                      Ammunition Expended: 9 type-91 modification-3 torpedoes. One torpedo (that on Akagi's attack plane) was not fired. 860 rounds of 7.7 mm. machine gun bullets.
                                      Results Obtained: Three hits scored on an Enterprise class carrier with torpedoes fired between

                                    Mission: As above.
                                    Commander: Unknown.
                                    Weather: As above.
                                    Air Engagements:


                                    Battle of Midway - WW2 Timeline (March 1942)

                                    The Battle of Midway was an early key naval battle in the Pacific Theater between the forces of the United States Navy (USN) and the Empire of Japan. Japan was keen on knocking out the remaining American carriers by luring them into a complicated trap - this to include a diversionary invasion of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands in the north. This would force the American carriers out of Pearl for the final deathblow. A Japanese victory would then secure their sphere of influence in the Pacific and help close the range on other targeted islands. The Japanese were also hopeful of an American negotiation to end the war in the Pacific on terms favorable to the Empire. The Americans, however, forged ahead with other plans.

                                    The Midway Atoll was strategically placed in the Pacific Ocean for both sides knew of its general importance for further operations in the region. In late May, a Japanese Naval task force departed Japan to undertake the operation to claim Midway - within their fleet were four aircraft carriers and a ground invasion force. The Northern Task Force began their invasion of the Aleutian Islands with aircraft from IJN Junyo and IJN Runyo but USN Admiral Chester Nimitz held his forces in back from commitment to the ruse.

                                    Unknown to the Japanese, American codebreakers had deciphered details of the planned invasion and recognized the Aleutian assault as merely diversionary which allowed time for the American fleet to set up a counter-ambush all their own. This proved ultra-critical to American success in the following months for their naval power had been hugely restricted after the attack on Pearl Harbor just six months prior. At the American's disposal were aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet. USS Yorktown soon joined them after undergoing repairs while USS Saratoga was still in harbor along the U.S. West Coast, having suffered battle damage.

                                    Some 162 IJN vessels made up the Midway Island contingent. IJN patrol aircraft missed encountering the massed American counter-force though USN patrol aircraft spotted elements of the IJN invasion force some 700 miles to the west of Midway. The battleship IJN Yamato was part of the main fleet and located 300 miles behind. The rest of the force lay 600 miles further south.

                                    USS Enterprise and USS Hornet now waited at their respective positions, ready to strike the unsuspecting Japanese fleet. In the early morning hours of June 4th, Japanese Vice Admiral Nagumo launched over 100 fighters and bombers against Midway - the fighters serving to protect the waves of incoming dive bombers.

                                    The Japanese air groups - and their launching carriers - were spotted by a U.S. Navy PBY Catalina reconnaissance flying boat about an hour later. All of Midway's available fighters were launched in its defense and USS Enterprise and USS Hornet both moved into action. Japanese fighters tangled with the American defense while her dive bombers swooped in and attacked the island's key infrastructure to good effect. However, the defense was more than expected and forced Japanese commanders to consider a second assault wave to help further diminish resistance. The initial attack proved costly for the IJN as some 67 aircraft were either lost to enemy action or landed back at the Japanese carriers with extensive damage. Confusion between the four Japanese carriers also added to the moment and slowly removed initiative away from the attackers. The invading forces were still unaware of any impending involvement from USN carrier groups for none had yet been spotted. The second wave of attack aircraft was green-lighted and refueling and rearming commenced aboard the IJN carrier decks.

                                    At 8:00AM, USS Hornet and USS Enterprise launched a combined force of 151 aircraft. At about this time, a Japanese patrol plane finally spotted the incoming American carriers. Upon news of the sighting, Japanese Admiral Nagumo was taken completely by surprise - his aircraft were still in the process of rearming and refueling and a change of course was ordered for the fleet in response. Mitsubishi 'Zero' fighter coverage was called in for local defense.

                                    USS Hornet's bombers flew in but failed to connect their ordnance and 35 of these 41 attacking aircraft were lost to Japanese guns. A 49-strong wave then followed by the Americans and benefited by the actions of the previous wave for Japanese fighter coverage was now down to lower altitude. Japanese carriers IJN Akagi, Kaga and Soryu were all three slammed with American bombs. Akagi was hit twice while Kaga was hit four times and Soryu took on damage from three bombs. Their respective deck aircraft, fully armed and fuelled, began exploding and causing uncontrollable fires.

                                    The Hiryu was luckily removed enough from the collection of the three targeted IJN carriers that she was able to launch her aircraft against USS Yorktown. USS Yorktown was just in process of recovering her aircraft when she was attacked and suffered three direct hits from IJN bombers. Two torpedoes from a second attack wave ultimately finished off the American vessel.

                                    USS Hornet and Enterprise responded in her defense and launched a 40-strong contingent of Douglas SDB dive bombers at IJN Hiryu. Four direct hits destroyed her deck at the bow and four near-hits rattled her under structure. Damaged proved severe enough that Hiryu was eventually placed out of action and later scuttled by the Japanese. USS Yorktown, refusing to sink, was instead towed by accompanying surface vessels while her crew was abandoned. Days later, she was targeted and sunk by a passing IJN submarine, bringing about an end to her USN carrier. Despite her loss, the Americans could claim four important Japanese aircraft carriers - these carriers being Pearl Harbor attack veterans - while also avenging the Japanese attack on Hawaii in the process.

                                    In the end, the Japanese operation was a terrible failure - four key carriers were lost along with thousands of personnel including irreplaceable and experienced airmen and aircraft. American actions during the Midway Campaign ensured their own respective presence in the Pacific Theater would be solidified by the event. For the Japanese military, it had now witnessed its peak as an unstoppable fighting force - and it now faced the very real possibility of defeat with a war inching its way to Tokyo itself.


                                    There are a total of (26) Battle of Midway - WW2 Timeline (March 1942) events in the Second World War timeline database. Entries are listed below by date-of-occurrence ascending (first-to-last). Other leading and trailing events may also be included for perspective.

                                    A large Imperial Japanese Naval force sails for Japan towards Midway Island. The force Is made up of four task forces. One is charged with the invasion of the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska while the other three are to take Midway Island itself and assail the responding USN fleet. One group contains the required four aircraft carriers.

                                    The final Imperial Japanese Task Force leaves mainland Japan.

                                    The Northern Task Force begins its operation to take the Aleutian Island chain and divert USN forces to the region.

                                    At 4:30AM, the bombing of Midway Island begins with aircraft from Vice-Admiral Nagumo's First Carrier Strike Force.

                                    American fighter aircraft take heavy losses but force the Japanese Navy to launch a second attack.

                                    At 7:28AM, a Japanese reconniassance plane spots spots ten undetermined USN surface ships 200 miles northeast of the Japanese Midway invasion force.

                                    At 7:52AM, USS Enterprise and USS Hornet launch their dive bombers and torpedo planes.

                                    At 8:20AM, a surprised Nagumo receives his first report of American carriers in the area.

                                    At 8:37AM, aircraft of the second Japanese strike force returns to their respective carriers for rearming and refueling.

                                    At 9:00AM, USS Yorktown launches her aircraft with Nagumo's carrier force as the prime target.

                                    At 9:18AM, Nagumo reacts to the American presence and changes the course of his Carrier Strike Force.

                                    Between 9:30AM and 10:00AM, Torpedo planes from the USS Enterprise and USS Hornet begin their attacks on the Japanese carriers.

                                    The first wave of USN carrier dive-bombers has difficulty in locating their Japanese targets.

                                    All incoming USN Devastator attackers are shot down by Japanese Zero fighters in the span of six minutes.

                                    The initial American assault on the Japanese carrier strike force is over by 10:00AM.

                                    At 10:25AM, a follow-up strike made up of 37 Dauntless dive bombers finds the Japanese carriers - now stocked with armed and fueled aircraft on their decks.

                                    The three Japanese carriers - Kaga, Soryu and Akagi - are struck with bombs and ultimately sunk.

                                    At 12:00PM, Imperial Japanese Navy bomber aircraft strike against the attacking USS Yorktown.

                                    By 2:30PM, the USS Yorktown is severely damaged but does not sink.

                                    By 3:00PM, the crew of the USS Yorktown has abandoned their carrier. The damaged vessel is towed by USN ships.

                                    At 5:00PM, the Imperial Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu is set ablaze after being struck by no fewer than five direct bomb hits from aircraft of the USS Enterprise.

                                    The Japanese carrier Hiryu is scuttled.

                                    The USS Yorktown, now severely damaged and in tow of US Navy forces, is targeted and sunk by a Japanese submarine.

                                    The island of Kiska is taken by Japanese forces.

                                    The island of Attu is taken by Japanese forces.

                                    The Aleutian Islands Campaign comes to a close. The Japanese invasion is ultimately repelled.


                                    (7) Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma, Sunk June 6, 1942 during the Battle of Midway, Approximate Location 29 ° 20’0”N, 173 ° 30’0”E:

                                    It was the second among the four Mogami-class Japanese heavy cruisers. Mikuma had a displacement of 13,668 tons, length of 650 ft (198 m), beam of 66 ft (20.2m), draft of 19 ft (5.9m) and a speed of 34.9 knots (64.7 kmph).

                                    Mikuma participated in the occupation of Fench Indochina. At the time of Attack on Pearl Harbor, she took part in the invasion of Malaya (now Malaysia). She also took part in the invasion of British Borneo and covered the landings of Japanese troops at Kuching and Miri in Malaya. She also took part in the Sumatra and Java landings and in the Battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942.

                                    During the Battle of Midway, Mikuma and another Japanese cruiser Mogami collided during a bad maneuver to avoid a submarine attack from USS Tambor on June 5, 1942. Mogami rammed the portside of Mikuma and Mogami’s bow was severly damaged. Mikuma was spilling oil from her portside due to her oil tanks were ruptured. As the morning sky brightened up a bit at 04:12, US submarine Tambor’s Commander John Murphy was certain that Mikuma and Mogami were Japanese ships. But Tambor was unsuccessful in the attack. Eight Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers from the Midway atoll also missed their targets. On June 6, 1942, 31 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Hornet and USS Enterprise attacked the Japanese Navy and Mikuma was hit by five bombs. Not being able to salvage her, she was scuttled the next day by a Japanese vessel. 240 Japanese combatants were rescued by three Japanese warships but 650 men went down with Mikuma.

                                    Image Used: Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma sinking on June 6, 1942


                                    The Battle of Midway: A Victory of the Intelligence Services

                                    Military history is dealing mostly with the causes which led to the victory of one of the combatants and not the other, the preconditions that favored the conduct of the conflict or the benefits, be they of a tactical or technological nature. Only a few battles offers the possibility for military history to explain victories when it seemed impossible. The Battle of Midway is one of those victories and we will present it in full.

                                    On May 5th, 1942, the Imperial General Headquarters released Order 18, which provided for an attack on the Aleutian Islands and an invasion of the Midway Islands. The attack on the Aleutians was a diversion in order to attract some of the US forces there, distracting them from the primary objective of their imperial fleet, which was Midway. On May 20, Admiral Yamamoto sent a directive to his superiors explaining in detail the way the operation took place.

                                    SBD 8-B-11 on USS Hornet. Image Courtesy of commons

                                    In order to succeed, Yamamoto’s plan involved a series of rapid and highly coordinated attacks. From Ominato, in northern Japan, two naval forces would leave and attack the islands of Attu and Kiska, but also the American base at Dutch Harbor. Two other naval forces were to leave Hashirajima, in southern Japan, to attack the Midway Islands in the northwestrn Pacific. One would be led by Admiral Nagumo Chuici the Japanese hero from Pearl Harbor, and the other one by Nobutake Kondo. In addition, the troops that were going to invade Midway were to be transported from bases situated in Guam and Saipan. After the attack on the Aleutians, the next day Admiral Nagumo’s attack on the Midway Islands had to take place. On the third day the invasion was expected. Meanwhile, Yamamoto had stayed behind with an large force in order to hit the American ships once they would make an appearance to defend Midway.

                                    The American Fleet manages, through its intelligence service, known as the Combat Intelligence Unit, to intercept the messages sent by Yamamoto to his superiors and by those under his command. Using the latest technology from IBM, the Combat Intelligence Unit, a service under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Rochefort, manages to break the Japanese code, JN25, and although they do not get all the details on the exact plans regarding the invasion, it was certain to them that the target is Midway. They managed to decipher the exact details of the attack on the Aleutian Islands and on the Midway Islands.

                                    The Japanese forces used for the attack on the Midway Island were composed by a submarine patrol party aligned on three corridors, in order to counter the US fleet movements, an invasion force of 50 000 soldiers, four aircraft carriers, carrying 250 planes and the main fleet, under the command of Yamamoto. Kido Butai (freely translated represents the term Mobile Force, but has a meaning closer to Striking Force), the Japanese fleet, was now the most powerful naval force in the world. On the other side, US Navy was still feeling the shock represented by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

                                    Even if he knew the Japanese plan in detail, the supreme commander of the US Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, was in an extremely delicate situation, given that he was outnumbered. To reduce this numeric difference he urgently called the American ships from the Coral Sea, under the command of Frank Jack Fletcher, and from the Solomon Islands, under the command of William F. Halsey. He also took measures to prepare the ground defenses of the two islands, Eastern and Sand, to withstand the Japanese invasion.

                                    The Americans plan was to position their three aircraft carriers at approx 400 km east of Midway, having a slight superiority in terms of aircraft numbers. They had to wait for the right moment to hit the Japanese ships. Without air support, the Japanese fleet would have been an easy target for the American aircraft.

                                    Meanwhile, the Japanese fleet was moving forward without knowing anything about the position and the strategy of the opponent. Yamamoto’s plan stipulated that the submarines would intercept the US Navy movements, but they could not be ready in time for the operation, so he stopped using them. But Nagumo was not aware of this detail because the Japanese decided to stop any radio communication during battle not to allow the Americans to locate their position.

                                    On the morning of June 4th an air attack, consisting of 108 airplanes struck Midway. The attack caused a lot of damage on the US military installations on Midway, but a new airstrike was ordered . Soon, there appeared on the horizon several US warplanes which led the Japanese fleet to make a tactical move, by heading northeast. Of the 42 American planes attacking the Japanese fleet, 35 were shot down. At that time Japan’s victory seemed certain.

                                    However, after just two minutes, 37 other American aircraft, that took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier Enterprise, descended from high altitude surprising the Japanese so did not have time to counter the attack. Three of the four Japanese aircraft carriers (Akagi, Kaga and Soryu) were hit and soon ablaze, all three had to be abandoned later. Hiryu was the only aircraft carrier still capable of supporting a counteroffensive.

                                    Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, in command of the Hiryu, gives immediate orders to his planes to attack the US aircraft carriers. 18 planes under the command of the veteran Lieutenant Michio Kobayashi, flew towards the aircraft carrier Yorktown.

                                    Aboard Yorktown, Admiral Fletcher received news that three Japanese carriers were sunk, as his planes were returning from the mission. Around noon, the radar had detected the approaching Japanese squadrons. With some planes still in the air, the US forces manage to destroy almost half of Kobayashi’s planes, but the rest continued to attack the aircraft carrier. Fletcher desperately tried to maneuver the carrier to avoid the incoming bombs, but the ship received several hits.

                                    Damaged USS Yorktown (CV-5) and Astoria (CA-34). Image Courtesy of commons

                                    In a desperate final attempt, Yamaguchi orderes the attack to continue, even after he realized that he also has to face the force of the other two other US aircraft carriers: Enterprise and Hornet. Under the command of Tomonoga, who led the initial attack on Midway, the Japanese planes manage a powerful strike on the Yorktown, which hit again and sinks.

                                    Admiral Fletcher was determined to destroy the last Japanese aircraft carrier, especially after it sunk his flagship. When Japanese planes fiercely attacked Yorktown, an American patrol was able to determine the position of the last aircraft carrier Hiryu. Amirarul Spruance, commander of the Enterprise and Hornet, had only a few planes ready to take off but launches the strike anyway.

                                    Yamaguchi decided to wait before launching the next attacks, which proved to be a major error, American planes appeared over the Hiryu. Managing to overcome the Japanese anti-aircraft fire, US planes repeatedly hit the ship which eventually sinks. Yamaguchi decided not to abandon ship and went down with it.

                                    Devastators of VT-6 aboard USS Enterprise preparing for take off during the battle. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

                                    The importance of the Battle of Midway in the outcome of the war in the Pacific still bears debates between historians, being unable to formulate a clear conclusion. One can distinguish two interpretations. The first suggests that Midway is the decisive moment of victory for the United States in the Pacific, while the second believes that Midway is an important victory, but not decisive for the fate of the war.

                                    According to some authors, the American victory at Midway is the most complete naval victory after the Trafalgar and like Horatio Nelson’s victory in 1805, it had significant strategic consequences for the war in progress. However, the importance of victory did not seemed to be obvious to all immediately after the confrontation. For example, on June 6, Roosevelt wrote to Stalin about a fresh victory for the US Navy, but called it indecisive.


                                    Henderson Field (Midway) - History - USAAF During The Battle of Midway

                                    Eight B-17E Flying Fortresses of the 431st Bombardment Squadron (11th Bombardment Group) were deployed to Midway on 29 May 1942 and were joined by nine more the next day from the 42d Bombardment Squadron along with five B-26 Marauders (three from the 19th Bombardment Squadron (22d Bombardment Group) that were in Hawaii and two from the 69th Bombardment Squadron (38th Bombardment Group)). The Marauders were equipped to drop torpedoes and were under the command of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific. In addition, B-17Es of the 3d and 72d Bombardment Squadrons (5th Bombardment Group) were sent to Midway in preparation for the battle.

                                    Because of the threat of a dawn attack on Midway, searching planes were sent out as early as possible each day - usually about 04:15. To safeguard them from destruction on the ground and to have the striking force instantly available, the B-17's took off immediately afterwards. They remained in the air for about 4 hours, by which time the progress of the search and the reduction of their fuel load made it safe for them to land. The four B-26's, the six TBF's, and other planes remained on the ground but fully alert until the search had reached a distance of 400 miles (640 km).

                                    Nimitz, believed that the enemy planned a rendezvous about 700 miles (1,100 km) west of Midway and ordered that this area be searched by B-17's on May 31 and June 1, if possible. This was done with negative results. On June 2nd a B-17 without bombs searched 800 miles (1,300 km) to the west without making any contacts. These searches were conducted in part by two groups of six B-17's flown in from Hawaii on May 30 and 31, respectively. Consequently their crews were in the air about 30 hours in the 2 days before actual combat, and, in addition, serviced their own planes.

                                    On June 3rd the usual search was made. At 12:30 9 B-17Es left Midway in search of the Japanese invasion fleet, which had been sighted by a PBY an hour earlier only 700 miles (1,100 km) away with was ordered to attack this "main body." This Japanese force, consisting of 2 or 3 heavy cruisers and about 30 other ships, including destroyers, transports, and cargo vessels, had evidently been moving toward Midway since the morning contact. At 16:25 the fleet of 26 ships was spotted 570 miles (920 km) from the island. Six B-17Es of the 431st, along with three B-17Es from the 31st attacked in three flights of three from altitudes of 8,000 feet (2,400 m), 10,000 feet (3,000 m), and 12,000 feet (3,700 m) respectively. Hits were scored on several Japanese vessels, with one heavy cruiser, one transport and three other ships left burning, however antiaircraft fire, although consistently behind the planes, was so heavy that it was considered unwise to stay to observe results.

                                    On the night of 3 June, an additional seven B-17Es from the 42d Bomb Squadron arrived on Midway to reinforce the heavy bomber contingent. At 04:15, 14 B-17s left Midway shortly after the patrol planes had been sent out. They were proceeding to the west to attack the enemy forces sighted the preceding day when a message was received in plain language telling of the discovery of the enemy carrier task force on bearing 325° from Midway. Climbing to 20,000 feet (6,100 m), the Fortresses changed course to find the carriers. The enemy force was located at 07:32, but the carriers, circling under a cloud formation, were not found till 08:10. The B-17's had skirted the fleet and approached from the northwest i. e., from the stern of the targets. They attacked by flights, two elements concentrating on each of two carriers and a single element on a third. Antiaircraft fire was heavy and found the altitude, but was generally behind. The Japanese fighters did not dare press home their attacks, which were ineffectual. The results of this attack were reported to be three hits on two carriers. Probably two of these hits were on the Sōryū, which may have been the carrier left smoking by the Marine SBD's only a few minutes before.

                                    In addition to the B-17 attacks, at 07:05 the B-26's attacked through heavy fighter defense and flak with no fighter support of their own. The Marauders were equipped with external torpedo racks underneath the keel of the aircraft. The torpedo runs began at 800 feet (240 m) altitude, the B-26s then dropping down to only 10 feet (3.0 m) above the water under heavy attack from Japanese fighters. Two of the Marauders were lost in this action, and the other two were heavily damaged. No hits were made on the Japanese carriers. The B-26 was much too large an aircraft for this type of attack.

                                    A second group of eight B-17Es launched from Midway on 5 June attacked a Japanese task force 130 miles (210 km) from the island and claimed hits on two large warships. A third group of six B-17s claimed hits on a heavy cruiser 300 miles (480 km) from Midway. The last strike made by Seventh Air Force aircraft in the Battle of Midway was by five B-17Es attacking a heavy cruiser 425 miles (684 km) from Midway, in which one B-17 was shot down, although all of the crew but one was rescued. Another B-17 was lost due to running out of fuel.

                                    Between 3 and 5 June, Fifth Air Force B-17s flew 16 attacks totaling 55 sorties from Midway. However, eventually it was determined that none of the heavy bombers actually hit a target. The B-17's were far more suited to high altitude bombing, hitting stationary ground targets, not maritime bombing, attempting to hit moving targets.

                                    Famous quotes containing the words battle and/or midway :

                                    &ldquo The battle of the North Atlantic is a grim business, and it isn’t going to be won by charm and personality. &rdquo
                                    &mdashEdmund H. North, British screenwriter, and Lewis Gilbert. First Sea Lord (Laurence Naismith)

                                    &ldquo How fearful
                                    And dizzy ‘tis, to cast one’s eyes so low!
                                    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
                                    Show scarce so gross as beetles. Half way down
                                    Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade! &rdquo
                                    &mdashWilliam Shakespeare (1564�)


                                    The Battle of Midway

                                    “Midway Island” is a misnomer. Scene of the American naval victory in June 1942, Midway is actually two islands some 3,800 miles west of California and 2,500 east of Tokyo. But its near-center position in the Pacific Ocean was less important than its proximity to Pearl Harbor: Midway is 1,300 miles northwest of Oahu.

                                    The strategic stage for Midway was set long before World War II. For more than 30 years, American and Japanese planners envisioned a decisive fleet engagement in mid-Pacific, a scenario with battleships as the major players. But aviation worked a stunning change.

                                    The Japanese carrier striking force (Kido Butai) that ravaged Pearl Harbor in 1941 was unlike anything the world had ever seen. Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo’s six flattops put 350 aircraft over Pearl Harbor, announcing with convincing violence that sea power now included airpower. Successive operations throughout the Pacific only reinforced Tokyo’s military prowess.

                                    Yorktown during the Battle of Midway.

                                    Meanwhile, the US Navy was forced to rely upon its few carriers. At the start of the war, America possessed just seven fleet carriers—fast ships capable of more than 35 mph, embarking 70 or more aircraft.

                                    Initially, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz’s Pacific Fleet owned three flattops, USS Lexington (CV-2), Saratoga (CV-3), and Enterprise (CV-6). The need for another flight deck was undeniable, so Enterprise’s older sister, Yorktown (CV-5), hastened to the Pacific.

                                    The next months were spent in hit-and-run carrier raids from the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, to Wake Island, to New Guinea, and the Solomons. More significantly, in mid-April the newly arrived USS Hornet (CV-8) launched Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s B-25s against Tokyo.

                                    The Imperial Navy was at once embarrassed and outraged. America’s carriers had to be destroyed.

                                    Then, in early May, something completely unprecedented occurred. The two-day Battle of the Coral Sea pitted Lexington and Yorktown against three Japanese flattops in a carrier versus carrier engagement. For the first time ever, neither fleet sighted the other, the battle being conducted wholly by aircraft. Lexington was lost and Yorktown damaged, while a small Japanese carrier was sunk and the larger Shokaku damaged. The air group of her sister carrier, Zuikaku, was mauled, and would be unable to deploy anytime soon.

                                    Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Combined Fleet, predicted Japan would run rampant for six months, but subsequently nothing was certain. Therefore, he knew seizing Midway would threaten Oahu, forcing Nimitz into battle.

                                    Fortunately for the US, American code breakers identified occasional plums of intelligence and began piecing together enemy intentions. They handed Nimitz the priceless advantage of advance notice of Operation MI, Japan’s plan to occupy Midway.

                                    Catalinas and B-17s

                                    In all, Japan deployed more than 120 vessels in five task forces. They included Yamamoto’s powerful “main body” trailing well astern of Kido Butai with 17 ships, none of which played a role in the battle—nor did the invasion and support forces with scores of vessels, plus submarines.

                                    Nagumo deployed four veteran flattops, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu, with 15 escorting battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. The Battle of the Coral Sea had reduced the forces that Kido Butai could commit to Midway, but the overall Japanese advantage appeared insurmountable.

                                    Tokyo’s dispersion lessened the odds faced by the US at any specific point of contact, but the odds were still long. Nimitz’s two task forces totaled three carriers with 23 escorts. They departed in late May, Yorktown still bearing Coral Sea bomb damage.

                                    (Simultaneous with the Midway attack in early June was Tokyo’s operation against the American-owned Aleutian Islands. Some accounts still describe the Aleutians as a strategic diversion, but it was a serious effort intended to succeed on its own. Occupation of Attu and Kiska was expected to secure Japan’s northern flank and draw off American assets from elsewhere. The Alaskan offensive included two carriers that would be sorely missed at Midway.)

                                    Yorktown during the Battle of Midway and fire. It was torpedoed and attacked by Japanese dive-bombers.

                                    Despite the huge disparity in ships, the Americans were far better matched in what mattered most: airpower. With 225 carrier aircraft and 125 more on Midway, Nimitz’s assets matched Yamamoto’s 248 tailhook aircraft and 16 recon floatplanes. Another daunting problem: At the time, Japanese designs invariably outperformed their American counterparts, especially Zero fighters versus Grumman Wildcats and Nakajima B5Ns (later Kates) versus Douglas TBD-1Devastator torpedo aircraft. The opposing dive-bombers—Douglas SBD Dauntlesses and Aichi D3A Vals—were both proven ship killers.

                                    Nimitz crammed every available aircraft onto Midway, America’s first fully joint operation of the war. Thirty-two PBY Catalina patrol aircraft operated mostly from Midway’s seaplane base on Sand Island, while Marine, Navy, and Army units used all the ramp space on Midway’s Eastern Island. The Marine air group flew a mixed squadron of SBD and Vought SB2U Vindicator scout-bombers, while the fighters mainly were Brewster F2A Buffalos with Wildcats.

                                    The Navy debuted six TBF Avenger torpedo airplanes alongside the Army’s B-26 Marauder torpedo bombers.

                                    The Army Air Forces’ main contribution was significant, comprising 19 B-17Es from the 5th and 11th Bomb Groups.

                                    The ungainly, long-legged Catalinas made first contact with the enemy. On the morning of June 3, they sighted lead elements of the Japanese force more than 450 miles out. Late that afternoon, Lt. Col. Walter C. Sweeney Jr. was over the enemy with nine B-17s. He sent a contact report, then led a high-altitude bombing attack that predictably failed.

                                    Hitting moving ships from 20,000 feet was a huge challenge that the Army fliers seldom trained to do. Nevertheless, the Flying Fortresses made their first contribution to the battle.

                                    Early on the fourth, three PBYs attacked the enemy transport force and torpedoed an oiler. The ship and the attackers survived, knowing they faced a full day of battle. More Catalinas and the B-17s rose before dawn, flying long-range searches to re-establish contact.

                                    Nagumo’s air plan began with a 108-airplane attack. The formation was seen by airborne Americans who sent a warning: “Many planes heading Midway.”

                                    Beginning around 6 a.m., Midway began scrambling everything: 25 Marine fighters 10 Army-Navy torpedo airplanes and 28 Leatherneck scout-bombers. The pilots of Marine Fighting Squadron 221, led by Maj. Floyd B. Parks, barely managed to engage the raiders. Committed piecemeal, caught at an altitude disadvantage by superior aircraft flown by experienced pilots, the Marines suffered terribly.

                                    In a few minutes, nearly all the Buffalos were shot down, with Parks and most of his pilots killed. For decades thereafter, the Buffalo was considered a “death trap”—but under those conditions, a full squadron of Wildcats would likely have fared little better.

                                    An aerial photo of the two islands comprising Midway. Eastern Island is in the foreground, Sand Island in the back.

                                    The Japanese lost a dozen airplanes to the defenders—mostly to anti-aircraft fire—but did a thorough wrecking job on Midway. They destroyed hangars, the power plant, fuel stores, and ordnance facilities. As the strike leader departed he signaled, “There is need for a second attack.” Back at the strike group, Nagumo ordered another bombing mission readied.

                                    Meanwhile, Midway’s hodgepodge strike group neared the Japanese force. One of the Avenger pilots was Ensign Albert K. Earnest, who described a running battle over the last 15 miles. Fast, slashing Zeros knocked down five TBFs, leaving Earnest to press his attack with a dead gunner and wounded radioman.

                                    He recalled, “My elevator wires were shot away. I released my torpedo at the nearest ship, a light cruiser, as I thought I was out of control, but regained control with the elevator tab.” He returned his riddled airplane to make a one-wheel landing at Midway.

                                    An AAF contribution came from Capt. James F. Collins Jr.’s flight of four speedy B-26 Marauders. They pressed their attacks to the limit. One B-26 nearly crashed on the flagship Akagi’s flight deck, and ultimately only Collins’ and Lt. James P. Muri’s Marauders returned.

                                    Next came the Marine bombers. Only partly trained, VMSB-241 was limited to glide-bombing attacks rather than steep dives. Eight Dauntlesses were lost attacking Hiryu, while the Vindicators fared no better. Unable to close on the carriers, they went after battleships, losing four airplanes to no avail.

                                    Shortly, Sweeney was back with 14 B-17s attacking in small formations that fountained the sea around enemy carriers but scratched no paint. As if that weren’t frustrating enough, the submarine Nautilus drew a bead on the carrier Kaga and scored a hit—with a dud torpedo.

                                    By that time, Japanese scouts were aloft. A cruiser floatplane radioed alarming news: An American force was “accompanied by what appears to be a carrier.”

                                    A Flight to Nowhere

                                    Nagumo now realized that he faced a serious threat at sea and ordered bombs on his Kates to be exchanged for torpedoes, costing precious time.

                                    Of the two American units, Rear Adm. Raymond A. Spruance’s Task Force 16 was first off the mark. Replacing the ailing Vice Adm. William F. Halsey, Spruance had Enterprise and Hornet begin launching their air groups when the range closed to launch distance. Meanwhile, Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher, in overall command from Yorktown’s Task Force 17, waited to recover his scouts before proceeding southwesterly. In the pivotal carrier battle, neither American admiral was an aviator.

                                    Due to staff problems, “The Big E” and Hornet failed to coordinate their efforts, and both launches dragged out. Enterprise’s air group commander, Lt. Cmdr. C. Wade McClusky, circled with his two SBD squadrons for nearly an hour before being ordered to “proceed on mission assigned.” He led 30 Dauntlesses toward the expected interception point, separate from his torpedo squadron.

                                    Dauntless aircraft from USS Hornet approach the burning Japanese cruiser Mikuma during the battle.

                                    Meanwhile, Hornet’s squadrons followed their enormously unpopular air group commander, Cmdr. Stanhope C. Ring, who led them on what has been called a “flight to nowhere” heading almost due west.

                                    Torpedo Eight skipper Lt. Cmdr. John C. Waldron finally broke off to port, knowing that Kido Butai had to be to the southwest. The SBDs continued to the extent of their fuel before returning to Hornet or diverting to Midway, while the inept fighter group skipper ran 10 aircraft out of fuel with two pilots lost.

                                    Waldron found the enemy, and about 9:30 a.m. led his 15 Devastators into Kido Butai. An unescorted daylight torpedo attack on an alerted fleet could only go one way: Some 40 Zeros awaited the attackers and quickly destroyed the squadron. All the TBDs were shot down with one pilot surviving no ships were hit.

                                    Next appeared Enterprise’s Torpedo Six. It suffered nearly as much as Torpedo Eight. Lt. Cmdr. Eugene E. Lindsey was killed at the head of his group of 14 Devastators, only four of which returned.

                                    All the while, McClusky’s SBDs searched. Reaching the briefed contact point, he found empty sea and continued several miles beyond. Shrewdly reckoning that Nagumo had to be northerly, McClusky began a box search. In fact, the Japanese had turned off their southeast course to avoid successive attacks. Burning fuel, the Dauntlesses continued the hunt.

                                    The third and last American torpedo squadron was Yorktown’s Torpedo Three. Launched later than the other units, Lt. Cmdr. Lance E. Massey arrived just as the smoke was clearing from the previous interception. The squadron’s dozen Devastators were all lost, but they kept the pressure on Nagumo.

                                    Then the sky rained Dauntlesses.

                                    In an unintentionally coordinated attack, Enterprise’s SBDs arrived over the target just as Yorktown’s dive-bombers appeared. McClusky had taken a heading from a Japanese destroyer harrying the submarine Nautilus, and struck gold.

                                    In the next few minutes, the Big E’s squadrons experienced an aerial traffic jam as the scouts and most of the bombers went for Kaga. McClusky’s pilots hammered her 36,000 tons into shambles.

                                    The Bombing Squadron Six skipper, Lt. Richard H. Best, was left with only two wingmen, but he destroyed Akagi with a perfect center hit. As they pulled out amid the flak, Enterprise’s fliers saw a third carrier burning: Soryu was victim of Lt. Cmdr. Maxwell F. Leslie’s Yorktown SBD dive-bombers.

                                    In a matter of minutes, the battle had completely reversed course.

                                    Enterprise lost about half her Dauntlesses on the mission. The Yorktowners initially got off lightly. However, the surviving Japanese carrier, Hiryu, quickly launched dive-bombers that crippled Yorktown and left her adrift. Lt. Cmdr. John S. Thach’s Wildcats exacted a heavy price for the success, but neither side was ready to quit.

                                    Meanwhile, a Yorktown scout found Hiryu and provided her position. The remaining Yorktown and Enterprise SBDs integrated and prepared to finish off Hiryu, but not before Hiryu’s Nakajimas attacked and put two torpedoes into Yorktown, forcing her abandonment. Shortly thereafter, the Dauntlesses were back, wrecking Hiryu and depriving Nagumo of his final flight deck.

                                    A Japanese aircraft carrier burns after dive-bomber attacks. Four Japanese aircraft carriers were destroyed at Midway, and some 3,000 Japanese were killed.

                                    Sweet, Sweet Revenge

                                    Stunned at the reversal, Yamamoto realized that without air cover, he would lose more ships.

                                    Operation MI was called off, yet the battle continued for two days.

                                    Spruance assumed overall command from the displaced Fletcher and authorized search-strikes to pummel the retreating enemy. Still, very little came easily. On the fifth, three squadrons of SBDs found a lone Japanese destroyer that evaded every bomb and shot down a Dauntless to boot.

                                    During the night, two Japanese cruisers collided, leaving them limping westward. They were soon discovered and pounced upon by Enterprise and Hornet dive-bombers which sank Mikuma and clobbered Mogami. By the afternoon of June 6, it appeared the battle was over.

                                    However, a Japanese sub captain thought otherwise. The 1,400-ton I-168 penetrated Yorktown’s protective screen and fired a devastating salvo. Torpedoes ripped the bottom out of the destroyer Hammann, secured alongside Yorktown, and inflicted mortal damage on “Old Yorky.” She lingered until the morning of the seventh, and with her sinking, the Battle of Midway finally ended.

                                    The Midway scoreboard showed a decisive American win. Four Japanese carriers and a cruiser were destroyed, with some 3,000 enemy killed, including irreplaceable aircrew. For the US, principal losses included one carrier and destroyer, with 307 aircrew and sailors killed.

                                    For decades after the war, conventional wisdom held that Midway averted a greater Japanese triumph in the Pacific. Two standard references were Walter Lord’s Incredible Victory (1967) and Gordon W. Prange’s Miracle at Midway (1982), which typified the battle’s public image.

                                    Over time, though, a more measured assessment has arisen. A Japanese victory at Midway never had the potential to end the war on terms favorable to Tokyo. Loss of two or even all three US carriers would have delayed the Central Pacific offensive, but not thwarted it. American resolve was unshakable following Pearl Harbor, and public opinion demanded a reckoning. V-J Day might have been delayed, but perhaps only one year.

                                    In any case, Midway remains a source of intense pride for its participants. None expressed it better than SBD pilot Best, who had dropped the bomb that sank Akagi. “Midway was revenge, sweet revenge for Pearl Harbor,” said Best. “The Italians say that revenge is a dish best served cold, and after Pearl Harbor, it was six months cold.”

                                    The battle may not have marked an indisputable turning point in the war, but it had enormous strategic importance. Midway was Japan’s last major offensive of the war afterward it ceded the strategic initiative to the United States. Only two months later, US marines landed at Guadalcanal, beginning a six-month battle of attrition that ensured Japan could not win and America could not lose.

                                    Barrett Tillman is a professional author and speaker who has flown a variety of historic aircraft and has received six writing awards for history and literature. This is his first article for Air Force Magazine.


                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by ChristopherPerrien » 06 Jun 2015, 00:54

                                    LOL , Sounds like Spruance , he was no carrier guy either. And he was very quiet and calm, so many thought him thoughtful. In actuality Spruance said"Some people believe that when I am quiet that I am thinking some deep and important thoughts, when the fact is that I am thinking of nothing at all. My mind is blank." -wiki-Spruance.

                                    And that guy won at Midway

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by glenn239 » 06 Jun 2015, 14:53

                                    Ozawa, Nagumo were the higher ranking commanders that could have led 1st Air Fleet. If Christopher can find any source anywhere that states anyone thinks Ozawa wasn’t the sharp one of that pair, I’d be interested.

                                    Yamaguchi, Hara, Nagumo, Kakuda were the carrier division commanders at the start of the war. AFAIK, Kakuda wasn’t experienced with fleet carriers. Between the other three, I’d rate them in the order I listed them in terms of competence to command carriers in battle. Nagumo seemed more comfortable as an administrative commander than as a battle commander, and perhaps with hindsight should have been promoted out of 1st Air Fleet after Pearl Harbor.

                                    The big question is which of Yamaguchi or Ozawa was the best. The IJN 'dream team' would have been Ozawa in command of Kido Butai, with his flag on 2nd CAR DIV with Yamaguchi as his primary advisor.

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by glenn239 » 06 Jun 2015, 15:04

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by steverodgers801 » 06 Jun 2015, 18:53

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by ChristopherPerrien » 06 Jun 2015, 21:21

                                    Yep, not one quote or written evidence. You are correct there is nothing, other than nebulous suppositions and (Uakgi''s diary), in Shattered Sword, or it would have been cited long ago.

                                    I am well aware of how the authors of Shattered Sword go light on the Japanese , as they are big fans of the IJN in WWII, they make no secret of it , it is in all their writings , but atleast they are realists about what the IJN was capable of .

                                    And bringing up that 3 strike mumbling, is nothing more than from Fuchida, and it was mere grandstanding by a lower level commander unaware and incapable of knowing, unauthorized to know , what the larger strategic plans were for the KB. The 3rd strike was never cancelled , it didn't exist.

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by rob0274 » 07 Jun 2015, 02:52

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by Rob Stuart » 07 Jun 2015, 09:32

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by Eugen Pinak » 07 Jun 2015, 13:16

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by rob0274 » 07 Jun 2015, 14:13

                                    I have spoken in general terms, but I have also provided enough specific examples from the book. I notice that your responses to them have been versions of 'well your wrong.' That's fine with me. I purchased the book on the recommendations found in these forums, and want to offer my reaction along with examples to elucidate it. I am not strongly invested in convincing anyone and definitely not in convincing you specifically.

                                    I don't see what my identity or name has anything to do with my opinions.

                                    There's no need to be an expert on the history of the IJN to be able to read a book and note that it contains virtually no research based on primary sources, or the suspicious preponderance of English-language sources. Likewise, one doesn't need to be an expert on Midway to recognize that a book advances arguments without substantiation.

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by rob0274 » 07 Jun 2015, 14:19

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by Rob Stuart » 07 Jun 2015, 17:03

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by ChristopherPerrien » 07 Jun 2015, 21:17

                                    I suppose you do have a point Rob0274 . As to style, but not IMO sources. I did not really notice the style as I was most interested in what their revisions were about the battle. Only read it once and not throughly before I loaned my copy out , and I aint see that dude since

                                    The biggest revision was the "no attack waves on deck/fatal 5" mostly from Fuchida/Prange's editors and Morrison, etal.. I considered that nothing really earth shaking as the Japanese were way-way too busy before the US DB's hit to load a full deck.

                                    In reference to the book itself , I believe the use of "Selected Bibliography" is meant to show not all sources are listed. Much Japanese source material was used, including still living Japanese participants of the battle.

                                    As to their "sources" or what you consider a lack thereof, You may want to seriously look at the listings of who helped and provided accuracy of sources, in the Introduction/ acknowledgements. There was a lot of collective effort to write that book, and many of the names and the assistance they received is a list of the best historians and archivists both of US and Japanese details/records on the battle . Perhaps that may also be why you see some favoritism here, besides it being a good book on the battle , several of the people who were part of the effort to put the book together in the first place, are here now.

                                    ADDENDA, I missed this, - "are apparently untrained hobbyists"- Calling many of the published authors and researchers who were involved in the making of "Shattered Sword" , "untrained hobbyists", is way out of line ,

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by genie854 » 08 Jun 2015, 00:57

                                    If you are really interested in what original research Shattered Sword has done, just go to http://www.jacar.go.jp. Most Japanese sources used in the book are available there. For a brief list of those sources, see 文献-同時代資料 on the Japanese Wikipedia page of the Battle of Midway. Actually, I have found a few mistakes/mistranslations in Shattered Sword when comparing it with the Japanese sources.

                                    I do agree that the book sometimes doesn't distinguish between researched facts and educated guess (or even imagination).

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by Rob Stuart » 08 Jun 2015, 02:12

                                    I’ve now had time to comment in more detail on a couple of your criticisms of Shattered Sword. It is unhelpful that you do not give page numbers for anything you comment on, but your above quoted comments apparently refer to pages 82 to 87 of the book. The sentence you quote is simply part of the authors’ preliminary remarks about doctrine and these remarks comprise just three paragraphs. They are not “pages long”. And I have no idea why you say that the authors cite only “a single source for their knowledge of Japanese doctrine”. For the discussion on doctrine on pages 83-87 the authors in fact cite four sources, none of which is “a decidedly unscholarly American popular history book”.

                                    Re: Shattered Sword - Opinions?

                                    Post by Wellgunde » 08 Jun 2015, 09:22

                                    The OP posed the question in his initial post on this topic as to why the Forum endorsed Shattered Sword. Let me say that the owner and moderators of this forum do not endorse any point of view except to encourage civil and courteous behavior and to ban inflammatory discussions about certain political, social, and historical matters (for example, Holocaust denial). If there is an endorsement, it has come about by the consensus view of the many positive comments made by the members of the forum.


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