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This SBD-2 was one of sixteen dive bombers of VMSB-241

The Battle of Midway has often been called "the turning point of the Pacific".[178] It was the Allies' first major naval victory against the Japanese,[179] won despite the Japanese Navy having more forces and experience than its American counterpart. Had Japan won the battle as thoroughly as the U.S. did, it might have been able to conquer Midway Island. Saratoga would have been the only American carrier in the Pacific, with no new ones being completed before the end of 1942. While the U.S. would probably not have sought peace with Japan as Yamamoto hoped, his country might have revived Operation FS to invade and occupy Fiji and Samoa; attacked Australia, Alaska, and Ceylon; or even attempted to conquer Hawaii.[180]

Although the Japanese continued to try to secure more territory, and the U.S. did not move from a state of naval parity to one of supremacy until after several more months of hard combat,[181] Midway allowed the Allies to switch to the strategic initiative, paving the way for the landings on Guadalcanal and the prolonged attrition of the Solomon Islands campaign. Midway allowed this to occur before the first of the new Essex-class fleet carriers became available at the end of 1942.[182] The Guadalcanal Campaign is also regarded by some as a turning point in the Pacific War.[183]

Some authors have stated that heavy losses in carriers and veteran aircrews at Midway permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy.[184] Parshall and Tully have stated that the heavy losses in veteran aircrew (110, just under 25% of the aircrew embarked on the four carriers)[185] were not crippling to the Japanese naval air corps as a whole; the Japanese navy had 2,000 carrier-qualified aircrew at

Although the Japanese continued to try to secure more territory, and the U.S. did not move from a state of naval parity to one of supremacy until after several more months of hard combat,[181] Midway allowed the Allies to switch to the strategic initiative, paving the way for the landings on Guadalcanal and the prolonged attrition of the Solomon Islands campaign. Midway allowed this to occur before the first of the new Essex-class fleet carriers became available at the end of 1942.[182] The Guadalcanal Campaign is also regarded by some as a turning point in the Pacific War.[183]

Some authors have stated that heavy losses in carriers and veteran aircrews at Midway permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy.[184] Parshall and Tully have stated that the heavy losses in veteran aircrew (110, just under 25% of the aircrew embarked on the four carriers)[185] were not crippling to the Japanese naval air corps as a whole; the Japanese navy had 2,000 carrier-qualified aircrew at the start of the Pacific war.[186] The loss of four large fleet carriers and over 40% of the carriers' highly trained aircraft mechanics and technicians, plus the essential flight-deck crews and armorers, and the loss of organizational knowledge embodied in such highly trained crews, were still heavy blows to the Japanese carrier fleet.[187][nb 6] A few months after Midway, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service sustained similar casualty rates in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, and it was these battles, combined with the constant attrition of veterans during the Solomons campaign, which were the catalyst for the sharp downward spiral in operational capability.[187]

After the battle, Shōkaku and Zuikaku were the only large carriers of the original Pearl Harbor strike force still afloat. Of Japan's other carriers, Taihō, which was not commissioned until early 1944, would be the only fleet carrier worth teaming with Shōkaku and Zuikaku; Ryūjō and Zuihō were light carriers, while Jun'yō and Hiyō, although technically classified as fleet carriers, were second-rate ships of comparatively limited effectiveness.[188] In the time it took Japan to build three carriers, the U.S. Navy commissioned more than two dozen fleet and light fleet carriers, and numerous escort carriers.[189] By 1942 the United States was already three years into a shipbuilding program mandated by the Second Vinson Act of 1938.[190]

Both the United States and Japan accelerated the training of aircrew, but the United States had a more effective pilot rotation system, which meant that more veterans survived and went on to training or command billets, where they were able to pass on lessons they had learned in training, instead of remaining in combat, where errors were more likely to be fatal.[191] By the time of the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, the Japanese had nearly rebuilt their carrier forces in terms of numbers, but their planes, many of which were obsolete, were largely flown by inexperienced and poorly trained pilots.[nb 7]

Midway showed the worth of pre-war naval cryptanalysis and intelligence-gathering. These efforts continued and were expanded throughout the war in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. Successes were numerous and significant. For instance, cryptanalysis made possible the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto's airplane in 1943.[193]

The Battle of Midway redefined the central importance of air superiority for the remainder of the war when the Japanese suddenly lost their four main aircraft carriers and were forced to return home. Without any form of air superiority, the Japanese never again launched a major offensive in the Pacific.[194][195]

Because of the extreme depth of the ocean in the area of the battle (more than 17,000 ft or 5,200 m), researching the battlefield has presented extraordinary difficulties. On 19 May 1998, Robert Ballard and a team of scientists and Midway veterans from both sides located and photographed Yorktown, which was located 16,650 feet deep (3.1 miles). The ship was remarkably intact for a vessel that had sunk in 1942; much of the original equipment and even the original paint scheme were still visible.[196] Ballard's subsequent search for the Japanese carriers was unsuccessful.

In September 1999, a joint expedition between Nauticos Corp. and the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office searched for the Japanese aircraft carriers. Using advanced renavigation techniques in conjunction with the ship's log of the submarine USS Nautil

In September 1999, a joint expedition between Nauticos Corp. and the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office searched for the Japanese aircraft carriers. Using advanced renavigation techniques in conjunction with the ship's log of the submarine USS Nautilus, the expedition located a large piece of wreckage, subsequently identified as having come from the upper hangar deck of Kaga. The crew of the Petrel research vessel, in conjunction with the US Navy, revealed on 18 October 2019 that it had found the Japanese carrier Kaga lying 5.4 km beneath the waves. The crew of the research vessel Petrel confirmed the discovery of another Japanese carrier, the Akagi, on 21 October 2019. The Akagi was found in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument resting in nearly 18,000 feet (5,490 meters) of water more than 1,300 miles (2,090 kilometers) northwest of Pearl Harbor.

Chicago Municipal Airport, important to the war effort in World War II, was renamed Chicago Midway International Airport (or simply Midway Airport) in 1949 in honor of the battle.[197]

Waldron Field, an outlying training landing strip at Corpus Christi NAS, as well as Waldron Road leading to the strip, was named in honor of John C. Waldron, the commander of USS Hornet's Torpedo Squadron 8. Yorktown Boulevard leading away from the strip was named for the U.S. carrier sunk in the battle.[198]

Henderson Field (Guadalcanal) was named in honor of United States Marine Corps Major Lofton Henderson, who was the first Marine aviator to perish during the battle.[199]

An escort carrier,