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Subject: Today in History.......... The Battle of Midway
RockyMTNClimber    6/4/2008 8:36:13 PM
This date was the beginning of the famous Battle of Midway where a world's future hung in the balance. In an amazing series of seemingly unlikely breaks the USN drove very well equipped, experienced, and in many ways larger naval force from the war. Never to return. Midway was discussed broadly on a couple of other threads as a anecdote or to demonstrate one comparative point or other about tactics equipment or training. I wonder what would have happened if Torpedo Eight hadn't drawn the Japanese air cover down to the sea to chase the doomed squadron, and then, Commander McClosky hadn't spoted a IJN destroyer who had just depth charged the USS natilus down deep, and was running to "catch up". That fortuitus observation by the dive bomber pilot and CAG of the Enterprise's air group set in motion a unlikely series of events that changed naval warfare forever and ended completely the IJN's ability to project its power across the Pacific. A case study of this day would be very interesting. Links to follow. Check Six Rocky Return to Naval Historical Center home page. Return to Online Library listing DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER 805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060 Online Library of Selected Images: -- EVENTS -- World War II in the Pacific -- Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942 -- Overview and Special Image Selection The Battle of Midway, fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll, represents the strategic high water mark of Japan's Pacific Ocean war. Prior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive. Japanese Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto moved on Midway in an effort to draw out and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet's aircraft carrier striking forces, which had embarassed the Japanese Navy in the mid-April Doolittle Raid on Japan's home islands and at the Battle of Coral Sea in early May. He planned to quickly knock down Midway's defenses, follow up with an invasion of the atoll's two small islands and establish a Japanese air base there. He expected the U.S. carriers to come out and fight, but to arrive too late to save Midway and in insufficient strength to avoid defeat by his own well-tested carrier air power. Yamamoto's intended surprise was thwarted by superior American communications intelligence, which deduced his scheme well before battle was joined. This allowed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, to establish an ambush by having his carriers ready and waiting for the Japanese. On 4 June 1942, in the second of the Pacific War's great carrier battles, the trap was sprung. The perserverance, sacrifice and skill of U.S. Navy aviators, plus a great deal of good luck on the American side, cost Japan four irreplaceable fleet carriers, while only one of the three U.S. carriers present was lost. The base at Midway, though damaged by Japanese air attack, remained operational and later became a vital component in the American trans-Pacific offensive. This page presents a special selection of Battle of Midway views, chosen from the more comprehensive coverage featured in the following pages, and those linked from them: Preparations for Battle, March 1942 to 4 June 1942; Japanese Air Attack on Midway, 4 June 1942; U.S. Attacks on the Japanese Carrier Striking Force, 4 June 1942; U.S. Navy Ships in Action during the Battle, 4 June 1942; Japanese Attacks on USS Yorktown, 4 June 1942; and Midway Actions and Activities after 4 June 1942. For artworks related to the Battle of Midway, see the Navy Art Gallery page The Battle of Midway. For further information and links to related resources, see Frequently Asked Questions: Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942. If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions." Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image. Photo #: 80-G-451086 Midway Atoll Aerial photograph, looking just south of west across the southern side of the atoll, 24 November 1941. Eastern Island, then the site of Midway's airfield, is in the foreground. Sand Island, location of most other base facilities, is across the entrance channel. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives. Online Image: 127KB; 680 x 765 pixels Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system. Photo #: 80-G-17056 Battle of Midway, June 1942 Burning oil tanks on Sand Island, Midway, following the Japanese air attack delivered on the morning of 4 June 1942. These tanks were located near what was then the southern shor
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RockyMTNClimber    Basic Timeline of Events   6/4/2008 8:43:39 PM
Date/Time Event
Dec. 7 Japan attacks Pearl Harbor
Dec. 10 Guam Falls
Dec. 31 Admiral Chester Nimitz assumes command of the US Pacific Fleet
Jan. 1-14 Ugaki writes a sketch of future operations, including the occupation of Midway.
March Japanese plans begin to center around Midway
April 2-6 Japanese Naval general Staff gives tentative approval for Midway invasion.
April 18 Doolittle raid on Japan
May 6 Corregidor surrenders
May 7-11 Battle of the Coral Sea
May 10-12 Hypo learns that Midway is Japan's target
May 17 Nimitz forms North Pacific Fleet to send to the Aleutians
May 22 General Marshall flies to West Coast because War Department fears attack there
May 27 Nagumo's task force sorties
May 28 Japan's Northern Forces sorties
May 28 Admiral Fletcher given command of US task forces
May 28 Task Force 16 sorties from Pearl Harbor
May 30 Task Force 17 sorties from Pearl Harbor
June 2 Nagumo breaks radio silence
June 3, 1942 All times are local
0700 2nd Carrier Striking Force attacks Dutch Harbor
0904 Midway receives message of "Sighting Main Body."
June 4, 1942 All times are local
0430 Nagumo begins launching of Midway attack force
0556 Air Raid alarm on Midway
0641 Attac
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RockyMTNClimber    Japanese Order of Battle   6/4/2008 8:45:44 PM

Japanese Order of Battle
Combined Fleet
Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief

  • MAIN BODY -- Admiral Yamamota
    • BatDiv -- Yamatoflagship, Nagato, Mutsu
    • Carrier Group -- Honsho(CLV) with 8 bombers; 1DD
    • Special Force -- Chiyoda, Nisshin (seaplane carriers serving as tender)
    • Screen (DesRon 3) --RADM Shintaro Hashimoto
      • Sendai (CL, flagship)
      • DesDiv 11 -- 4 DD
      • DesDiv 19 -- 4 DD
      • 1st Supply Unit -- 2 oilers
    • GUARD (Aleutians Screening) FORCE -- VADM Shiro Takasu
      • BatDiv 2 -- Hyuga (flagship), Ise, Fuso, Yamashira
        • Screen -- RADM Fukuji Kishi
          • CruDiv 9 -- Kitakami (CL, flagship, Oi (CL)
          • DesDiv 20 -- 4DDs
          • DesDiv 24 -- 4DDs
          • DesDiv 27 -- 4DDs
          • 2nd Supply Unit -- 2 oilers
  • FIRST CARRIER STRIKING FORCE (1st Air Fleet) -- VADM Chuichi Nagumo
    • Carrier Group -- VADM Nagumo
      • CarDiv 1
        • Akagi (CV, flagship) -- 21 Zero fighters, 21 dive bombers, 21 torpedo bombers
        • Kaga (CV) -- 21 Zero fighters, 21 dive bombers, 30 torpedo bombers
      • CarDiv 2 -- RADM Tamon Yamaguchi
        • Hiryu (CV, flagship) -- 21 Zero fighters, 21 dive bombers, 21 torpedo bombers
        • Soryu (CV) -- 21 Zero fighters, 21 dive bombers, 21 torpedo bombers
    • Support Group -- RADM Hiroaki Abe
      • CruDiv 8 -- Tone (CA, flagship), Chikuma (CA)
      • 2nd Section, BatDiv 3 -- Haruna, Kirishima
    • Screen (DesRon 10) -- RADM Susumu Kimura
      • Nagara (CL), flagship
      • DesDiv 4 -- 4DD
      • DesDiv 10 -- 3DD
      • DesDiv 17 -- 4DD
    • Supply Group -- 5 oilers, 1 DD
  • MIDWAY INVASION FORCE (2nd Fleet) VADM Nobutake Kondo
    • Invasion Force Main Body
      • Cr
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RockyMTNClimber    United States/Allied Order of Battle   6/4/2008 8:47:13 PM

United States Order of Battle
U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas
Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief

  • CARRIER STRIKING FORCE -- RADM Frank Jack Fletcher
    • Task Force 17 -- Admiral Fletcher
      • TG 17.5 Carrier Group -- Capt. Elliot Buckmaster
        • Yorktown(CV) -- Capt. Buckmaster
          • VF-3 -- 25 F4F-4
          • VB-3 -- 18 SBD-3
          • VS-3 -- 19 SBD-3
          • VT-3 -- 13 TBD-1
    • TG 17.2 Cruiser Group --RADM William Smith
      • Astoria(CA),Portland(CA)
    • TG 17.4 Destroyer Squadron -Capt. Gibert C. Hoover (ComDesRon 2)
      • 6 DDs (1 Joined on June 1)
    • Task Force 16 -- RADM Raymond A Spruance
      • TG 16.5 Carrier Group -- Capt. George D. Murray
        • Enterprise(CV) -- Capt. Murray
          • VF-6 -- 27 F4F-4
          • VB-6 -- 19 SBD-2 and -3
          • VS-6 -- 19 SBD-2 and -3
          • VT-6 -- 14 TBD-1
        • Hornet(CV) -- Capt. Marc A Mitscher(Promoted to RADM en route to Midway)
          • VF-8 -- 27 F4F-4
          • VB-8 -- 19 SBD-2 and -3
          • VS-8 -- 18 SBD-2 and -3
          • VT-8 -- 15 TBD
      • TG 16.2 Cruiser Group --RADM Thomas C. Kinkaid (ComCruDiv6)
        • New Orleans(CA), Minneapolis(CA), Vincennes(CA), Northampton(CA), Pensacola(CA), Atlanta(CL)
      • TG 16.4 Destroyer Screen -Capt. Alexander D. Early (ComDesRon 1)
        • 9 DDs
        • Oiler Group -- 2 oilers, 2DDs
  • SUBMARINES -- RADM Robert H. English, Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific, at Pearl Harbor
    • TG 7.1 Midway Patrol Group -- 12 submarines
    • TG 7.2 On roving assignment -- 3 submarines
    • TG 7.2 North of Oahu Patrol -- 4 submarines
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RockyMTNClimber    A thin narative of events....   6/4/2008 8:54:27 PM
Battle of Midway

(June 4, 1942)

The Battle of Midway marked the high-water mark of the Japanese Navy. Unfortunately, the confidence and skill that had given them victory after victory in the first six months of the war now led them to commit their forces to an invasion of Midway Island, an unwise over-extension of their defensive perimeter. This might not have proven fatal, had not the operational plan devised by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and Combined Fleet staff been needlessly complex, and had not the Americans possessed the radio and cryptographic intelligence assets that they did. However, as the result of these factors (and some breathtakingly effective repair efforts to get Yorktown back into action after the beating she suffered at Coral Sea) the Americans managed to commit three heavy carriers to the Japanese four off of Midway, and possessed forewarning of Japanese intentions in the area. Yet even this might not have been enough, given Japanese superiority in training and tactics. However, the Americans benefitted from a surfeit of both bravery and luck on this day.

Having located the Japanese force first, the Americans launched a steady progression of both land- and carrier-based attacks on the morning of the 4th. The penultimate strikes, by American carrier-based torpedo planes, were a dismal failure and led to the near-total annihilation of the US forces involved. However, they did succeed in drawing the Japanese fighters down to lower altitude, leaving the door open for a high-altitude dive bombing attack. And fortunately for the Americans, their dive-bombers, though poorly directed and low on fuel, managed to follow an outlying Japanese destroyer back to the main force. It was 1000 hours.

The subsequent dive-bombing attack was one of the most effective of the war. Three Japanese carriers (Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu) were heavily hit and would later sink, despite strenuous damage control efforts. Hiryu, which avoided the morning bloodbath, managed to launch an afternoon attack which crippled the hard-hit Yorktown (she would be sunk soon thereafter by a Japanese submarine), but then she, too, was found and sunk later in the day. Kido Butai, the feared Japanese carrier striking force which had ranged across the Pacific and beaten its foes with near-impunity, had been destroyed at a stroke.

For the Japanese Navy, this marked the end of any real strategic offensive capability. They would rebuild their airwings, and eventually replace their carriers, but they would never again possess a 'critical mass' of both large carriers and well-trained air groups. From now on, the war would be fought against the backdrop of an inexorable increase in US naval might, which might not be immediately deployable, but was demonstrably building. The Japanese, meanwhile, would find their strength increasingly on the wane. And the anvil of the Solomons, where the logistical and material backbone of Nihon Kaigun would be permanently and irrevocably broken, lay just ahead.

Battle of Midway Japan Allied
Starting Forces First Mobile Force (Nagumo)"> x4"> x2"> x2"> x1"> x12

Main Body (Yamamoto)"> x1"> x3"> x1"> x9

Strike Force (Kondo)"> x1"> x2"> x4"> x1"> x8

Escort Force (Tanaka)"> x1"> x10

Occupation Support Force (Kurita)"> x4"> x3"> x3
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RockyMTNClimber    Sysop request   6/4/2008 8:58:49 PM
While clicking and pasting here I seem to have messed up the thread's orientation. Could you correct this please?
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Herald12345    This is a time when we needed gun cameras, Rocky   6/4/2008 9:23:05 PM
Boy that would have jolted those bastards at BuOrd a lot, if the survivors got back to homeplate with FILM showing the Navy just what kind of sorry ordnance we gave them.


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caltrop    DB   6/11/2008 2:14:33 PM
Quote from text: "Three Japanese carriers (Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu) were heavily hit and would later sink, despite strenuous damage control efforts."
In the case of the Akagi, a single bomb hit ( and a near miss astern) = Sunk.  People can always look at the statistics about a carriers offensive power but its these little things that make the difference.  IJN damage control was pitiful.
That's why I'm not sure Torp 8 pulling air cover down made that much difference in the outcome.  Perhaps some and perhaps not.  What was huge was McCluskey notcing and deciding to follow the IJN destroyer.  That one event is the key to the whole battle.
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RockyMTNClimber    Torpedo Eight   6/11/2008 2:58:16 PM

Quote from text: "Three Japanese carriers (Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu) were heavily hit and would later sink, despite strenuous damage control efforts."


In the case of the Akagi, a single bomb hit ( and a near miss astern) = Sunk.  People can always look at the statistics about a carriers offensive power but its these little things that make the difference.  IJN damage control was pitiful.


That's why I'm not sure Torp 8 pulling air cover down made that much difference in the outcome.  Perhaps some and perhaps not.  What was huge was McCluskey notcing and deciding to follow the IJN destroyer.  That one event is the key to the whole battle.

Why I think Torpedo Eight was relevant (very relevant) is because McClusky didn't have to deal with any fighter cover as he arrived over the IJN, twisting and turning in the blue Pacific. Had McClusky and company been dodging Zekes they might not have made the quality of attacks that they did. Remember, McClusky's fighter cover got seperated and arrived  out of position to cover the Dauntless Divebombers.
The IJN pilots forgot what their jobs were. Protect the fleet, not chew up retreating enemy planes just to run the score up.
Check Six
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ambush       6/12/2008 11:41:09 AM
  Of interest is this guys conclusion tht even ha teh U.S. lost at Midway the Japanese would have still lost the war:
"In other words, even if it had lost catastrophically at the Battle of Midway, the United States Navy still would have broken even with Japan in carriers and naval air power by about September 1943. Nine months later, by the middle of 1944, the U.S. Navy would have enjoyed a nearly two-to-one superiority in carrier aircraft capacity! Not only that, but with her newer, better aircraft designs, the U.S. Navy would have enjoyed not only a substantial numeric, but also a critical qualitative advantage as well, starting in late 1943. All this is not to say that losing the Battle of Midway would not have been a serious blow to American fortunes! For instance, the war would almost certainly have been protracted if the U.S. had been unable to mount some sort of a credible counter-stroke in the Solomons during the latter half of 1942. Without carrier-based air power of some sort there would not have been much hope of doing so, meaning that we would most likely have lost the Solomons. However, the long-term implications are clear: the United States could afford to make good losses that the Japanese simply could not. Furthermore, this comparison does not reflect the fact that the United States actually slowed down it's carrier building program in late 1944, as it became increasingly evident that there was less need for them. Had the U.S. lost at Midway, it seems likely that those additional carriers (3 Midway-class and 6 more Essex-Class CVs, plus the Saipan-class CVLs) would have been brought on line more quickly. In a macro-economic sense, then, the Battle of Midway was really a non-event. There was no need for the U.S. to seek a single, decisive battle which would 'Doom Japan' -- Japan was doomed by it's very decision to make war."
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Herald12345       6/12/2008 11:39:03 PM
Combined Fleet website source previously cited.

The economic production argument ignores two factors


If the USNAF had died at Midway, and there was a very good chance that it could so die.......from where would our cadre of trained veterans to TEACH those deck crews and pilots their trade come?

The pool of trained US talent was not that deep in 1942.

Here is an ECONOMIC example of how trained cadre becomes critical in war. How many armor experts [metallurgists specialized in the behavior of steels under shock loading as well as how to make steel armors]  did the US have in 1942, who could either handle cast or cold rolled steels as an art form?

There were 12 of them. Kill them all and what would be the war result? OBVIOUS. The Japanese actually had more experts than we did

Our experts would eventually train others, but the point is that we didn't have that big a cadre of naval air force combat experience as the Japanese had, either. It, thus, took us a while to kill them all.

Midway + the Turkey Shoot= dead Japanese veterans and useless IJN training base. .

Carrier operations is a perishable skill that takes DECADES to learn.

Only one nation actually currently knows how to do it.

That is why that gentleman talks through his hat when he oversimplifies.the eeconomics;. The factors in the Great Pacific War are far more complex than even he understands


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