Task Force 16
Task Force 17
11th Air Fleet
7 heavy cruisers
1 light cruiser
233 carrier-based aircraft
127 land-based aircraft
2 heavy cruisers
1 light cruiser
248 carrier-based aircraft
Did not participate in battle:
2 light carriers
4 heavy cruisers
2 light cruisers
~35 support ships
Casualties and losses
1 carrier sunk
1 destroyer sunk
~150 aircraft destroyed
307 killed including 3 killed as prisoners
4 carriers sunk
1 heavy cruiser sunk
1 heavy cruiser damaged
248 aircraft destroyed
Hawaiian Islands Campaign
Johnston and Palmyra
Dutch East Indies
Gilberts & Marshalls
Marianas & Palau
Volcano & Ryukyu
Indian Ocean (1940–45)
Dutch East Indies
Strategic bombing (1944–45)
Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies 1941–42
Attack on Pearl Harbor
Estevan Point Lighthouse
Lookout Air Raids
Volcano & Ryukyu Is
Hiroshima & Nagasaki
Second Sino-Japanese War
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle in the Pacific
World War II
World War II which occurred between 4 and 7 June 1942, only
six months after Japan's attack on
Pearl Harbor and one month after
the Battle of the Coral Sea. The
United States Navy under
Admirals Chester Nimitz, Frank Jack Fletcher, and Raymond A. Spruance
defeated an attacking fleet of the
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy under
Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chuichi Nagumo, and
Nobutake Kondo near
Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet that
proved irreparable. Military historian
John Keegan called it "the most
stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare."
The Japanese operation, like the earlier attack on Pearl Harbor,
sought to eliminate the
United States as a strategic power in the
Pacific, thereby giving
Japan a free hand in establishing its Greater
East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Japanese hoped another
demoralizing defeat would force the U.S. to capitulate in the Pacific
War and thus ensure Japanese dominance in the Pacific. Luring the
American aircraft carriers into a trap and occupying Midway was part
of an overall "barrier" strategy to extend Japan's defensive
perimeter, in response to the Doolittle air raid on Tokyo. This
operation was also considered preparatory for further attacks against
Fiji, Samoa, and
The plan was handicapped by faulty Japanese assumptions of the
American reaction and poor initial dispositions. Most significantly,
American cryptographers were able to determine the date and location
of the planned attack, enabling the forewarned U.S. Navy to prepare
its own ambush. There were seven aircraft carriers involved in the
battle and all four of Japan's large fleet carriers—Akagi, Kaga,
Soryu and Hiryu, part of the six-carrier force that had attacked Pearl
Harbor six months earlier—and a heavy cruiser were sunk, while the
U.S. lost only the carrier Yorktown and a destroyer.
After Midway and the exhausting attrition of the Solomon Islands
campaign, Japan's capacity to replace its losses in materiel
(particularly aircraft carriers) and men (especially well-trained
pilots and maintenance crewmen) rapidly became insufficient to cope
with mounting casualties, while the United States' massive industrial
and training capabilities made losses far easier to replace. The
Battle of Midway, along with the Guadalcanal Campaign, is widely
considered a turning point in the Pacific War.
1.1 Yamamoto's plan: Operation MI
1.2 Aleutian invasion
2.1 American reinforcements
2.2 Japanese shortcomings
2.3 Allied code-breaking
3.1 Order of battle
3.2 Initial air attacks
3.3 Nagumo's dilemma
3.4 Attacks on the Japanese fleet
3.5 Japanese counterattacks
3.6 American counterattack
4 Japanese and US casualties
5.1 American prisoners
5.2 Japanese prisoners
7 Discovery of sunken vessels
9 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
The extent of Japanese military expansion in the Pacific, April 1942
After expanding the war in the Pacific to include Western outposts,
the Japanese Empire had attained its initial strategic goals quickly,
taking the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, and the Dutch East Indies
(modern Indonesia); the latter, with its vital oil resources, was
particularly important to Japan. Because of this, preliminary planning
for a second phase of operations commenced as early as January 1942.
There were strategic disagreements between the Imperial Army (IJA) and
Imperial Navy (IJN), and infighting between the Navy's GHQ and Admiral
Isoroku Yamamoto's Combined Fleet, and a follow-up strategy was not
formed until April 1942.
Admiral Yamamoto finally succeeded in
winning the bureaucratic struggle with a thinly veiled threat to
resign, after which his plan for the Central Pacific was adopted.
Yamamoto's primary strategic goal was the elimination of America's
carrier forces, which he regarded as the principal threat to the
overall Pacific campaign. This concern was acutely heightened by the
Doolittle Raid on 18 April 1942, in which 16 U.S. Army Air Forces B-25
Mitchell bombers launched from USS Hornet bombed targets in Tokyo
and several other Japanese cities. The raid, while militarily
insignificant, was a shock to the Japanese and showed the existence of
a gap in the defenses around the Japanese home islands as well as the
accessibility of Japanese territory to American bombers.
This, and other successful hit-and-run raids by American carriers in
the South Pacific, showed that they were still a threat, although
seemingly reluctant to be drawn into an all-out battle. Yamamoto
reasoned that another air attack on the main U.S. Naval base at Pearl
Harbor would induce all of the American fleet to sail out to fight,
including the carriers. However, considering the increased strength of
American land-based air power on the
Hawaiian Islands since the
December 7 attack the previous year, he judged that it was now too
risky to attack
Pearl Harbor directly.
Instead, Yamamoto selected Midway, a tiny atoll at the extreme
northwest end of the Hawaiian Island chain, approximately 1,300 miles
(1,100 nautical miles; 2,100 kilometres) from Oahu. This meant that
Midway was outside the effective range of almost all of the American
aircraft stationed on the main Hawaiian islands. Midway was not
especially important in the larger scheme of Japan's intentions, but
the Japanese felt the Americans would consider Midway a vital outpost
Pearl Harbor and would therefore be compelled to defend it
vigorously. The U.S. did consider Midway vital: after the battle,
establishment of a U.S. submarine base on Midway allowed submarines
Pearl Harbor to refuel and re-provision, extending
their radius of operations by 1,200 miles (1,900 km). In addition
to serving as a seaplane base, Midway's airstrips also served as a
forward staging point for bomber attacks on Wake Island.
Yamamoto's plan: Operation MI
Midway Atoll, several months before the battle. Eastern Island (with
the airfield) is in the foreground, and the larger Sand Island is in
the background to the west.
Typical of Japanese naval planning during World War II, Yamamoto's
battle plan for taking Midway (named Operation MI) was exceedingly
complex. It required the careful and timely coordination of
multiple battle groups over hundreds of miles of open sea. His design
was also predicated on optimistic intelligence suggesting that
USS Enterprise and USS Hornet, forming Task Force 16, were the
only carriers available to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. During the Battle
of the Coral Sea one month earlier, USS Lexington had been sunk
and USS Yorktown suffered considerable damage such that the
Japanese believed she too had been lost. However, following hasty
repairs at Pearl Harbor, Yorktown sortied and would go on to play a
critical role in the discovery and eventual destruction of the
Japanese fleet carriers at Midway. Finally, much of Yamamoto's
planning, coinciding with the general feeling among the Japanese
leadership at the time, was based on a gross misjudgment of American
morale, which was believed to be debilitated from the string of
Japanese victories in the preceding months.
Yamamoto felt deception would be required to lure the U.S. fleet into
a fatally compromised situation. To this end, he dispersed his
forces so that their full extent (particularly his battleships) would
be concealed from the Americans prior to battle. Critically,
Yamamoto's supporting battleships and cruisers trailed Vice Admiral
Chūichi Nagumo's carrier force by several hundred miles. They were
intended to come up and destroy whatever elements of the U.S. fleet
might come to Midway's defense once Nagumo's carriers had weakened
them sufficiently for a daylight gun battle; this tactic was
typical of the battle doctrine of most major navies at the time.
What Yamamoto did not know was that the U.S. had broken the main
Japanese naval code (dubbed
JN-25 by the Americans), divulging many
details of his plan to the enemy. His emphasis on dispersal also meant
none of his formations were in a position to support each other.
For instance, despite the fact that Nagumo's carriers were expected to
carry out strikes against Midway and bear the brunt of American
counterattacks, the only warships in his fleet larger than the
screening force of twelve destroyers were two Kongō-class fast
battleships, two heavy cruisers, and one light cruiser. By contrast,
Yamamoto and Kondo had between them two light carriers, five
battleships, four heavy cruisers, and two light cruisers, none of
which would see action at Midway. The light carriers of the
trailing forces and Yamamoto's three battleships were unable to keep
pace with the carriers of the Kido Butai[nb 1] and so could not have
sailed in company with them. The distance between Yamamoto and Kondo's
forces and Nagumo's carriers had grave implications during the battle:
the invaluable reconnaissance capability of the scout planes carried
by the cruisers and carriers, as well as the additional antiaircraft
capability of the cruisers and the other two battleships of the
Kongō-class in the trailing forces, was denied to Nagumo.
Aleutian Islands Campaign
In order to obtain support from the
Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army for the
Midway operation, the
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy agreed to support their
invasion of the Aleutian Islands. The IJA wished to occupy the western
Aleutians to place the Japanese home islands out of range of U.S.
land-based bombers based in Alaska. The Japanese operations in the
Aleutian Islands (Operation AL) removed yet more ships that could
otherwise have augmented the force striking Midway. Whereas many
earlier historical accounts considered the Aleutians operation as a
feint to draw American forces away, early twenty-first century
research has suggested that AL was intended to be launched
simultaneously with the attack on Midway. A one-day delay in the
sailing of Nagumo's task force resulted in Operation AL beginning a
day before the Midway attack.
USS Yorktown at
Pearl Harbor days before the battle
To do battle with an enemy expected to muster four or five carriers,
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas,
needed every available U.S. flight deck. He already had Vice Admiral
William Halsey's two-carrier (Enterprise and Hornet) task force at
hand, though Halsey was stricken with severe dermatitis and had to be
replaced by Rear
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Halsey's escort
commander. Nimitz also hurriedly recalled Rear
Admiral Frank Jack
Fletcher's task force, including the carrier Yorktown, from the South
West Pacific Area.
Despite estimates that Yorktown, damaged in the Battle of the Coral
Sea, would require several months of repairs at Puget Sound Naval
Shipyard, her elevators were intact and her flight deck largely
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard worked around the clock, and
in 72 hours she was restored to a battle-ready state, judged good
enough for two or three weeks of operations, as Nimitz
required. Her flight deck was patched, and whole sections of
internal frames were cut out and replaced. Repairs continued even as
she sortied, with work crews from the repair ship USS Vestal,
herself damaged in the attack on
Pearl Harbor six months earlier,
Yorktown's partially depleted air group was rebuilt using whatever
planes and pilots could be found. Scouting Five (VS-5) was replaced
with Bombing Three (VB-3) from USS Saratoga. Torpedo Five (VT-5)
was also replaced by Torpedo Three (VT-3.) Also Fighting Three (VF-3)
was reconstituted to replace VF-42 with sixteen pilots from VF-42 and
eleven pilots from VF-3 with Lieutenant Commander John S. "Jimmy"
Thach in command. Some of the aircrew were inexperienced, which may
have contributed to an accident in which Thach's executive officer Lt
Cmndr Donald Lovelace was killed. Despite efforts to get Saratoga
(which had been undergoing repairs on the American West Coast) ready
for the coming engagement, the need to resupply and assemble
sufficient escorts meant she was not able to reach Midway until after
On Midway, by 4 June the USN had stationed four squadrons of PBYs—31
aircraft in total—for long-range reconnaissance duties, and 6
brand-new Grumman TBF Avengers, the latter a detachment from Hornet's
VT-8. The Marine Corps stationed 19 Douglas SBD Dauntless, 7 F4F-3
Wildcats, 17 Vought SB2U Vindicators, and 21 Brewster F2A Buffalos.
The USAAF contributed a squadron of 17 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 4
Martin B-26 Marauders equipped with torpedoes: in total 126 aircraft.
Although the F2As and SB2Us were already obsolete, they were the only
aircraft available to the Marine Corps at the time.
Akagi, the flagship of the Japanese carrier striking force which
attacked Pearl Harbor, as well as Darwin, Rabaul, and Colombo, in
April 1942 prior to the battle
Battle of the Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea one month earlier, the Japanese
light carrier Shōhō had been sunk and the fleet carrier Shōkaku was
severely damaged by three bomb hits, and was in drydock for months of
repair. Although the fleet carrier Zuikaku escaped the battle
undamaged, she had lost almost half her air group, and was in port in
Kure awaiting replacement planes and pilots. That there were none
immediately available is attributable to the failure of the IJN crew
training program, which already showed signs of being unable to
replace losses. Instructors from the Yokosuka Air Corps were employed
in an effort to make up the shortfall.
Historians Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully believe that by
combining the surviving aircraft and pilots from Shōkaku and Zuikaku,
it is likely that Zuikaku could have been equipped with almost a full
composite air group. They also note that doing so would have violated
Japanese carrier doctrine, which stressed that carriers and their
airgroups must train as a single unit (in contrast, American air
squadrons were considered interchangeable between carriers). In any
case, the Japanese apparently made no serious attempt to get Zuikaku
ready for the forthcoming battle.
Thus, Carrier Division 5, consisting of the two most advanced aircraft
carriers of the Kido Butai, would not be available, which meant that
Admiral Nagumo had only two thirds of the fleet carriers at his
disposal: Kaga and Akagi forming Carrier Division 1 and Hiryū and
Sōryū as Carrier Division 2. This was partly due to fatigue;
Japanese carriers had been constantly on operations since 7 December
1941, including raids on Darwin and Colombo. Nonetheless, the
First Carrier Strike Force sailed with 238 available aircraft on the
four carriers (60 on Akagi, 74 on Kaga(B5N2 squadron oversized) 57 on
Hiryu and 57 on Soryu.)
The main Japanese carrier-borne strike aircraft were the D3A1 "Val"
dive bomber and the B5N2 "Kate", which was used either as a torpedo
bomber or as a level bomber. The main carrier fighter was the fast and
highly maneuverable A6M "Zero". For a variety of reasons, production
of the "Val" had been drastically reduced, while that of the "Kate"
had been stopped completely and, as a consequence, there were none
available to replace losses. In addition, many of the aircraft
being used during the June 1942 operations had been operational since
late November 1941 and, although they were well-maintained, many were
almost worn out and had become increasingly unreliable. These factors
meant all carriers of the
Kido Butai had fewer aircraft than their
normal complement, with few spare aircraft or parts stored in the
carriers' hangars.[nb 2]
In addition, Nagumo's carrier force suffered from several defensive
deficiencies which gave it, in Mark Peattie's words, a "'glass jaw':
it could throw a punch but couldn't take one." Japanese carrier
anti-aircraft guns and associated fire control systems had several
design and configuration deficiencies which limited their
effectiveness. The IJN's fleet combat air patrol (CAP) consisted of
too few fighter aircraft and was hampered by an inadequate early
warning system, including a lack of radar. Poor radio communications
with the fighter aircraft inhibited effective command and control of
the CAP. The carriers' escorting warships were deployed as visual
scouts in a ring at long range, not as close anti-aircraft escorts, as
they lacked training, doctrine, and sufficient anti-aircraft guns.
Japanese strategic scouting arrangements prior to the battle were also
in disarray. A picket line of Japanese submarines was late getting
into position (partly because of Yamamoto's haste), which let the
American carriers reach their assembly point northeast of Midway
(known as "Point Luck") without being detected. A second attempt
at reconnaissance, using four-engine H8K "Emily" flying boats to scout
Pearl Harbor prior to the battle and detect whether the American
carriers were present, part of Operation K, was thwarted when Japanese
submarines assigned to refuel the search aircraft discovered that the
intended refueling point—a hitherto deserted bay off French Frigate
Shoals—was now occupied by American warships, because the Japanese
had carried out an identical mission in March. Thus,
deprived of any knowledge concerning the movements of the American
carriers immediately before the battle.
Japanese radio intercepts did notice an increase in both American
submarine activity and message traffic. This information was in
Yamamoto's hands prior to the battle. Japanese plans were not changed;
Yamamoto, at sea in Yamato, assumed Nagumo had received the same
signal from Tokyo, and did not communicate with him by radio, so as
not to reveal his position. These messages were, contrary to
earlier historical accounts, also received by Nagumo before the battle
began. For reasons which remain unclear, Nagumo did not alter his
plans or take additional precautions.
Admiral Nimitz had one critical advantage: US cryptanalysts had
partially broken the Japanese Navy's
JN-25b code. Since early
1942, the US had been decoding messages stating that there would soon
be an operation at objective "AF". It was initially not known where
"AF" was, but Commander
Joseph Rochefort and his team at Station HYPO
were able to confirm that it was Midway: Captain Wilfred Holmes
devised a ruse of telling the base at Midway (by secure undersea
cable) to broadcast an uncoded radio message stating that Midway's
water purification system had broken down. Within 24 hours, the
code breakers picked up a Japanese message that "AF was short on
water." No Japanese radio operators who intercepted the message
seemed concerned that the Americans were broadcasting uncoded that a
major naval installation close to the Japanese threat ring was having
a water shortage, which could have tipped off Japanese intelligence
officers that it was a deliberate attempt at deception.
HYPO was also able to determine the date of the attack as either 4 or
5 June, and to provide Nimitz with a complete IJN order of battle.
Japan had a new codebook, but its introduction had been delayed,
enabling HYPO to read messages for several crucial days; the new code,
which would take several days to be cracked, came into use on 24 May,
but the important breaks had already been made.
As a result, the Americans entered the battle with a very good picture
of where, when, and in what strength the Japanese would appear. Nimitz
knew that the Japanese had negated their numerical advantage by
dividing their ships into four separate task groups, all too widely
separated to be able to support each other. This dispersal
resulted in few fast ships being available to escort the Carrier
Striking Force, reducing the number of anti-aircraft guns protecting
the carriers. Nimitz calculated that the aircraft on his three
carriers, plus those on Midway Island, gave the U.S. rough parity with
Yamamoto's four carriers, mainly because American carrier air groups
were larger than Japanese ones. The Japanese, by contrast, remained
mainly unaware of their opponent's true strength and dispositions even
after the battle began.
Order of battle
Main article: Midway order of battle
Torpedo bomber Martin B-26-MA Marauder "Susie-Q" of the 18th
Reconnaissance Squadron, 22nd Bombardment Group USAAF was flown by
1/Lt James Perry Muri during the
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942
Initial air attacks
Movements during the battle, according to William Koenig in Epic Sea
Timeline of the
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway (acc. to William Koenig)
04:30 First Japanese takeoff against Midway Islands
04:30 10 planes (Yorktown) begin to search for the Japanese ships
05:34 Japanese ships detected by a PBY from Midway I.
07:10 6 TBF Avengers and 4 USAAF B-26 (from Midway I.) attack
07:50 67 dive bombers, 29 torpedo bombers, 20 Wildcats take off
07:55 16 dive bombers of the US Navy (from Midway I.) attack
08:10 17 B-17s (from Midway Islands) attack
08:20 11 bombers of the US Navy (from Midway I.) attack
09:06 12 torpedo bombers, 17 dive bombers, 6 Wildcats take off
09:18 Nagumo to Northeast
09:25 15 torpedo bombers (Hornet) attack
09:30 14 torpedo bombers (Enterprise) attack
10:00 12 torpedo bombers (Yorktown) attack
10:25 30 dive bombers (Enterprise) attack Akagi and Kaga
10:25 17 dive bombers (Yorktown) attack Soryu
11:00 18 Vals and 6 Zekes take off from Hiryu
11:30 10 planes (Yorktown) take off to search for remaining Japanese
12:05 First attack on Yorktown
13:30 Hiryu detected by a Yorktown plane; 24 dive bombers take off
against Hiryu (Spruance)
13:31 10 Kates and 6 Zekes take off from Hiryu
13:40 Yorktown again in service, making 18 knots
14:30 Second attack on Yorktown
15:00 Yorktown abandoned
16:10 Soryu sunk
17:00 Dive bombers attack on Hiryu
19:25 Kaga sunk
05:00 Akagi sunk
09:00 Hiryu sunk
At about 09:00 on 3 June, Ensign Jack Reid, piloting a PBY from U.S.
Navy patrol squadron VP-44, spotted the Japanese Occupation Force
500 nautical miles (580 miles; 930 kilometres) to the west-southwest
of Midway. He mistakenly reported this group as the Main Force.
Nine B-17s took off from Midway at 12:30 for the first air attack.
Three hours later, they found Tanaka's transport group 570 nautical
miles (660 miles; 1,060 kilometres) to the west.
Under heavy anti-aircraft fire, they dropped their bombs. Although
their crews reported hitting 4 ships, none of the bombs actually
hit anything and no significant damage was inflicted. Early the
following morning, the Japanese oil tanker Akebono Maru sustained the
first hit when a torpedo from an attacking PBY struck her around
01:00. This was the only successful air-launched torpedo attack by the
U.S. during the entire battle.
At 04:30 on 4 June, Nagumo launched his initial attack on Midway
itself, consisting of 36
Aichi D3A dive bombers and 36 Nakajima B5N
torpedo bombers, escorted by 36
Mitsubishi A6M Zero
Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters. At the
same time, he launched his 8 search aircraft (one from the heavy
cruiser Tone launched 30 minutes late). Japanese reconnaissance
arrangements were flimsy, with too few aircraft to adequately cover
the assigned search areas, laboring under poor weather conditions to
the northeast and east of the task force. As Nagumo's bombers and
fighters were taking off, 11 PBYs were leaving Midway to run their
search patterns. At 05:34, a PBY reported sighting 2 Japanese carriers
and another spotted the inbound airstrike 10 minutes later.
Midway's radar picked up the enemy at a distance of several miles, and
interceptors were scrambled. Unescorted bombers headed off to attack
the Japanese carriers, their fighter escorts remaining behind to
defend Midway. At 06:20, Japanese carrier aircraft bombed and heavily
damaged the U.S. base. Midway-based Marine fighters led by Major Floyd
B. Parks, which included 7 F4Fs and 21 F2As, intercepted the
Japanese and suffered heavy losses, though they managed to destroy 4
B5Ns and at least 3 A6Ms. Within the first few minutes, 3 F4Fs and 13
F2As were destroyed, while most of the surviving U.S. planes were
damaged, with only 2 remaining airworthy. American anti-aircraft fire
was intense and accurate, destroying 4 additional Japanese aircraft
and damaging many more.
Of the 108 Japanese aircraft involved in this attack, 11 were
destroyed, 14 were heavily damaged, and 29 were damaged to some
degree. The initial Japanese attack did not succeed in neutralizing
Midway: American bombers could still use the airbase to refuel and
attack the Japanese invasion force, and most of Midway's land-based
defenses were intact. Japanese pilots reported to Nagumo that a second
aerial attack on Midway's defenses would be necessary if troops were
to go ashore by 7 June.
Having taken off prior to the Japanese attack, American bombers based
on Midway made several attacks on the Japanese carrier force. These
included 6 Grumman Avengers, detached to Midway from Hornet's VT-8
(Midway was the combat debut of both
VT-8 and the TBF); Marine
Scout-Bombing Squadron 241 (VMSB-241), consisting of 11 SB2U-3s and 16
SBDs, plus 4 USAAF B-26s of the 18th Reconnaissance and 69th Bomb
Squadrons armed with torpedoes, and 15 B-17s of the 31st, 72nd, and
431st Bomb Squadrons. The Japanese repelled these attacks, losing 2
fighters while destroying 5 TBFs, 2 SB2Us, 8 SBDs, and 2 B-26s.
The first Marine aviator to perish in the battle, Major Lofton R.
Henderson of VMSB-241, was killed while leading his inexperienced
Dauntless squadron into action. The main airfield at Guadalcanal was
named after him in August 1942.
One B-26, after being seriously damaged by anti-aircraft fire, made a
suicide run on Akagi. Making no attempt to pull out of its run, the
aircraft narrowly missed crashing directly into the carrier's bridge,
which could have killed Nagumo and his command staff. This
experience may well have contributed to Nagumo's determination to
launch another attack on Midway, in direct violation of Yamamoto's
order to keep the reserve strike force armed for anti-ship
A B-17 attack misses Hiryū; this was taken between 08:00–08:30. A
Shotai of 3 Zeros is lined up near the bridge. This was one of several
combat air patrols launched during the day.
In accordance with Japanese carrier doctrine at the time, Admiral
Nagumo had kept half of his aircraft in reserve. These comprised two
squadrons each of dive bombers and torpedo bombers. The dive bombers
were as yet unarmed. The torpedo bombers were armed with torpedoes
should any American warships be located.
At 07:15, Nagumo ordered his reserve planes to be re-armed with
contact-fused general purpose bombs for use against land targets. This
was a result of the attacks from Midway, as well as of the morning
flight leader's recommendation of a second strike. Re-arming had been
underway for about 30 minutes when, at 07:40, the delayed scout
plane from Tone signaled that it had sighted a sizable American naval
force to the east, but neglected to describe its composition. Later
evidence suggests Nagumo did not receive the sighting report until
Nagumo quickly reversed his order to re-arm the bombers with general
purpose bombs and demanded that the scout plane ascertain the
composition of the American force. Another 20–40 minutes elapsed
before Tone's scout finally radioed the presence of a single carrier
in the American force. This was one of the carriers from Task Force
16. The other carrier was not sighted.
Nagumo was now in a quandary. Rear
Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, leading
Carrier Division 2 (Hiryū and Sōryū), recommended that Nagumo
strike immediately with the forces at hand: 18 Aichi D3A1 dive bombers
each on Sōryū and Hiryū, and half the ready cover patrol
aircraft. Nagumo's opportunity to hit the American ships was
now limited by the imminent return of his Midway strike force. The
returning strike force needed to land promptly or it would have to
ditch into the sea. Because of the constant flight deck activity
associated with combat air patrol operations during the preceding
hour, the Japanese never had an opportunity to position ("spot") their
reserve planes on the flight deck for launch.
The few aircraft on the Japanese flight decks at the time of the
attack were either defensive fighters or, in the case of Sōryū,
fighters being spotted to augment the Combat Air Patrol. Spotting
his flight decks and launching aircraft would have required at least
30 minutes. Furthermore, by spotting and launching immediately,
Nagumo would be committing some of his reserve to battle without
proper anti-ship armament; he had just witnessed how easily unescorted
American bombers had been shot down. Poor discipline caused many
of the Japanese bombers to ditch their bombs and attempt to dogfight
Japanese carrier doctrine preferred the launching of fully constituted
strikes rather than piecemeal attacks. Without confirmation of whether
the American force included carriers (not received until 08:20),
Nagumo's reaction was doctrinaire. In addition, the arrival of
another land-based American air strike at 07:53 gave weight to the
need to attack the island again. In the end, Nagumo decided to wait
for his first strike force to land, then launch the reserve, which
would by then be properly armed with torpedoes.
In the final analysis, it made no difference; Fletcher's carriers had
launched their planes beginning at 07:00 (with Enterprise and Hornet
having completed launching by 07:55, but Yorktown not until 09:08), so
the aircraft that would deliver the crushing blow were already on
their way. Even if Nagumo had not strictly followed carrier doctrine,
he could not have prevented the launch of the American attack.
Attacks on the Japanese fleet
Ensign George Gay (right), sole survivor of VT-8's TBD Devastator
squadron, in front of his aircraft, 4 June 1942
The Americans had already launched their carrier aircraft against the
Japanese. Fletcher, in overall command aboard Yorktown, and benefiting
from PBY sighting reports from the early morning, ordered Spruance to
launch against the Japanese as soon as was practical, while initially
holding Yorktown in reserve in case any other Japanese carriers were
Spruance judged that, though the range was extreme, a strike could
succeed and gave the order to launch the attack. He then left Halsey's
Chief of Staff, Captain Miles Browning, to work out the details and
oversee the launch. The carriers had to launch into the wind, so the
light southeasterly breeze would require them to steam away from the
Japanese at high speed. Browning therefore suggested a launch time of
07:00, giving the carriers an hour to close on the Japanese at 25
knots (46 km/h; 29 mph). This would place them at about 155
nautical miles (287 km; 178 mi) from the Japanese fleet,
assuming it did not change course. The first plane took off from
Spruance's carriers Enterprise and Hornet a few minutes after
07:00. Fletcher, upon completing his own scouting flights,
followed suit at 08:00 from Yorktown.
Fletcher, along with Yorktown's commanding officer, Captain Elliott
Buckmaster, and their staffs, had acquired first-hand experience in
organizing and launching a full strike against an enemy force in the
Coral Sea, but there was no time to pass these lessons on to
Enterprise and Hornet which were tasked with launching the first
strike. Spruance ordered the striking aircraft to proceed to
target immediately, rather than waste time waiting for the strike
force to assemble, since neutralizing enemy carriers was the key to
the survival of his own task force.
While the Japanese were able to launch 108 aircraft in just seven
minutes, it took Enterprise and Hornet over an hour to launch 117.
Spruance judged that the need to throw something at the enemy as soon
as possible was greater than the need to coordinate the attack by
aircraft of different types and speeds (fighters, bombers, and torpedo
bombers). Accordingly, American squadrons were launched piecemeal and
proceeded to the target in several different groups. It was accepted
that the lack of coordination would diminish the impact of the
American attacks and increase their casualties, but Spruance
calculated that this was worthwhile, since keeping the Japanese under
aerial attack impaired their ability to launch a counterstrike
(Japanese tactics preferred fully constituted attacks), and he gambled
that he would find Nagumo with his flight decks at their most
American carrier aircraft had difficulty locating the target, despite
the positions they had been given. The strike from Hornet, led by
Commander Stanhope C. Ring, followed an incorrect heading of 265
degrees rather than the 240 degrees indicated by the contact report.
As a result, Air Group Eight's dive bombers missed the Japanese
Torpedo Squadron 8
Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8, from Hornet), led by
Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron, broke formation from Ring and
followed the correct heading. The 10 F4Fs from Hornet ran out of fuel
and had to ditch.
Devastators of VT-6 aboard USS Enterprise being prepared for take
off during the battle
Waldron's squadron sighted the enemy carriers and began attacking at
09:20, followed by Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6, from Enterprise) whose
Wildcat fighter escorts also ran low on fuel and had to turn back
at 09:40. Without fighter escort, all 15 TBD Devastators of VT-8
were shot down without being able to inflict any damage. Ensign George
H. Gay, Jr. was the only survivor of the 30 aircrew of VT-8. VT-6 lost
10 of its 14 Devastators, and 10 of Yorktown's VT-3's 12 Devastators
were shot down with no hits to show for their effort, thanks in part
to the abysmal performance of their unimproved Mark 13 torpedoes.
Midway was the last time the TBD Devastator was used in combat.
The Japanese combat air patrol, flying Mitsubishi A6M2 Zeros, made
short work of the unescorted, slow, under-armed TBDs. A few TBDs
managed to get within a few ship-lengths range of their targets before
dropping their torpedoes—close enough to be able to strafe the enemy
ships and force the Japanese carriers to make sharp evasive
maneuvers—but all of their torpedoes either missed or failed to
explode. Remarkably, senior Navy and Bureau of Ordnance officers
never questioned why half a dozen torpedoes, released so close to the
Japanese carriers, produced no results. The abysmal performance of
American torpedoes in the early months of the war became a scandal.
Torpedo after torpedo either missed by running directly under the
target, prematurely exploded, or struck targets with textbook right
angle hits (sometimes with an audible clang) and failed to
Despite their failure to score any hits, the American torpedo attacks
achieved three important results. First, they kept the Japanese
carriers off balance and unable to prepare and launch their own
counterstrike. Second, the poor control of the Japanese combat air
patrol (CAP) meant they were out of position for subsequent attacks.
Third, many of the Zeros ran low on ammunition and fuel. The
appearance of a third torpedo plane attack from the southeast by VT-3
from Yorktown at 10:00 very quickly drew the majority of the Japanese
CAP to the southeast quadrant of the fleet. Better discipline,
and the employment of a greater number of Zeroes for the CAP might
have enabled Nagumo to prevent (or at least mitigate) the damage
caused by the coming American attacks.
By chance, at the same time VT-3 was sighted by the Japanese, three
squadrons of SBDs from Enterprise and Yorktown were approaching from
the southwest and northeast. The Yorktown squadron (VB-3) had flown
just behind VT-3, but elected to attack from a different course. The
two squadrons from Enterprise (VB-6 and VS-6) were running low on fuel
because of the time spent looking for the enemy. Squadron commander C.
Wade McClusky, Jr. decided to continue the search, and by good fortune
spotted the wake of the Japanese destroyer Arashi, steaming at full
speed to rejoin Nagumo's carriers after having unsuccessfully
depth-charged U.S. submarine Nautilus, which had unsuccessfully
attacked the battleship Kirishima. Some bombers were lost from
fuel exhaustion before the attack commenced.
McClusky's decision to continue the search and his judgment, in the
Admiral Chester Nimitz, "decided the fate of our carrier
task force and our forces at Midway ..." All three American
dive-bomber squadrons (VB-6, VS-6 and VB-3) arrived almost
simultaneously at the perfect time, locations and altitudes to
attack. Most of the Japanese CAP was focusing on the torpedo
planes of VT-3 and were out of position, armed Japanese strike
aircraft filled the hangar decks, fuel hoses snaked across the decks
as refueling operations were hastily being completed, and the repeated
change of ordnance meant that bombs and torpedoes were stacked around
the hangars, rather than stowed safely in the magazines, making the
Japanese carriers extraordinarily vulnerable.
Beginning at 10:22, the two squadrons of Enterprise's air group split
up with the intention of sending one squadron each to attack Kaga and
Akagi. A miscommunication caused both of the squadrons to dive at the
Kaga. Recognizing the error, Lieutenant Commander Richard Halsey Best
and his two wingmen were able to pull out of their dives and, after
judging that Kaga was doomed, headed north to attack Akagi. Coming
under an onslaught of bombs from almost two full squadrons, Kaga
sustained four or five direct hits, which caused heavy damage and
started multiple fires. One of the bombs landed near the bridge,
Jisaku Okada and most of the ship's senior
officers. Lieutenant Clarence E. Dickinson, part of McClusky's
We were coming down in all directions on the port side of the
carrier ... I recognized her as the Kaga; and she was
enormous ... The target was utterly satisfying ... I saw a
bomb hit just behind where I was aiming ... I saw the deck
rippling and curling back in all directions exposing a great section
of the hangar below ... I saw [my] 500-pound bomb hit right
abreast of the [carrier's] island. The two 100-pound bombs struck in
the forward area of the parked planes ... 
Several minutes later, Best and his two wingmen dived on the Akagi.
Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese aviator who had led the attack on Pearl
Harbor, was on the Akagi when it was hit, and described the attack:
A look-out screamed: "Hell-Divers!" I looked up to see three black
enemy planes plummeting towards our ship. Some of our machineguns
managed to fire a few frantic bursts at them, but it was too late. The
plump silhouettes of the American Dauntless dive-bombers quickly grew
larger, and then a number of black objects suddenly floated eerily
from their wings.
Although Akagi sustained only one direct hit (almost certainly dropped
by Lieutenant Commander Best), it proved to be a fatal blow: the bomb
struck the edge of the mid-ship deck elevator and penetrated to the
upper hangar deck, where it exploded among the armed and fueled
aircraft in the vicinity. Nagumo's chief of staff, Ryūnosuke Kusaka,
recorded "a terrific fire ... bodies all over the place ...
Planes stood tail up, belching livid flames and jet-black smoke,
making it impossible to bring the fires under control." Another
bomb exploded under water very close astern; the resulting geyser bent
the flight deck upward "in grotesque configurations" and caused
crucial rudder damage.[nb 3]
Simultaneously, Yorktown's VB-3, commanded by Max Leslie, went for
Sōryū, scoring at least three hits and causing extensive damage.
Some of Leslie's bombers did not have bombs as they were accidentally
released when the pilots attempted to use electrical arming switches.
Nevertheless, Leslie and others still dove, strafing carrier decks and
providing cover for those who had bombs. Gasoline ignited,
creating an "inferno," while stacked bombs and ammunition
detonated. VT-3 targeted Hiryū, which was hemmed in by Sōryū,
Kaga, and Akagi, but achieved no hits.
Within six minutes, Sōryū and Kaga were ablaze from stem to stern,
as fires spread through the ships. Akagi, having been struck by only
one bomb, took longer to burn, but the resulting fires quickly
expanded and soon proved impossible to extinguish; she too was
eventually consumed by flames and had to be abandoned. All three
carriers remained temporarily afloat, as none had suffered damage
below the waterline, other than the rudder damage to Akagi caused by
the near miss close astern. Despite initial hopes that Akagi could be
saved or at least towed back to Japan, all three carriers were
eventually abandoned and scuttled.[nb 4]
Yorktown at the moment of impact of a torpedo from a
Nakajima B5N of
Lieutenant Hashimoto's 2nd chūtai
Hiryū, the sole surviving Japanese aircraft carrier, wasted little
time in counterattacking. Hiryū's first attack wave, consisting of 18
D3As and 6 fighter escorts, followed the retreating American aircraft
and attacked the first carrier they encountered, Yorktown, hitting her
with three bombs, which blew a hole in the deck, snuffed out her
boilers, and destroyed one anti-aircraft mount. The damage also forced
Admiral Fletcher to move his command staff to the heavy cruiser
Astoria. Repair teams were able to temporarily patch the flight deck
and restore power to several boilers within an hour, giving her a
speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) and enabling her to
resume air operations. Thirteen Japanese dive bombers and three
escorting fighters were lost in this attack (two escorting fighters
turned back early after they were damaged attacking some of
Enterprise's SBDs returning from their attack on the Japanese
Approximately one hour later, Hiryū's second attack wave, consisting
of ten B5Ns and six escorting A6Ms, arrived over Yorktown; the repair
efforts had been so effective that the Japanese pilots assumed that
Yorktown must be a different, undamaged carrier. They attacked,
crippling Yorktown with two torpedoes; she lost all power and
developed a 23-degree list to port. Five torpedo bombers and two
fighters were shot down in this attack.
News of the two strikes, with the mistaken reports that each had sunk
an American carrier, greatly improved Japanese morale. The few
surviving aircraft were all recovered aboard Hiryū. Despite the heavy
losses, the Japanese believed that they could scrape together enough
aircraft for one more strike against what they believed to be the only
remaining American carrier.
Late in the afternoon, a Yorktown scout aircraft located Hiryū,
prompting Enterprise to launch a final strike of 24 dive bombers
(including 6 SBDs from VS-6, 4 SBDs from VB-6, and 14 SBDs from
Yorktown's VB-3). Despite Hiryū being defended by a strong cover of
more than a dozen Zero fighters, the attack by Enterprise and orphaned
Yorktown aircraft launched from Enterprise was successful: four bombs
(possibly five) hit Hiryū, leaving her ablaze and unable to operate
aircraft. Hornet's strike, launched late because of a communications
error, concentrated on the remaining escort ships, but failed to score
After futile attempts at controlling the blaze, most of the crew
remaining on Hiryū were evacuated and the remainder of the fleet
continued sailing northeast in an attempt to intercept the American
carriers. Despite a scuttling attempt by a Japanese destroyer that hit
her with a torpedo and then departed quickly, Hiryū stayed afloat for
several more hours, being discovered early the next morning by an
aircraft from the escort carrier Hōshō and prompting hopes she could
be saved, or at least towed back to Japan. Soon after being spotted,
Hiryū sank. Rear-
Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, together with the ship's
captain, Tomeo Kaku, chose to go down with the ship, costing Japan
perhaps its best carrier officer.
Hiryū, shortly before sinking. This photo was taken by Special
Service Ensign Kiyoshi Ōniwa from a
Yokosuka B4Y off the carrier
As darkness fell, both sides took stock and made tentative plans for
continuing the action.
Admiral Fletcher, obliged to abandon the
derelict Yorktown and feeling he could not adequately command from a
cruiser, ceded operational command to Spruance. Spruance knew the
United States had won a great victory, but he was still unsure of what
Japanese forces remained and was determined to safeguard both Midway
and his carriers. To aid his aviators, who had launched at extreme
range, he had continued to close with Nagumo during the day and
persisted as night fell.
Finally, fearing a possible night encounter with Japanese surface
forces, and believing Yamamoto still intended to invade, based in
part on a misleading contact report from the submarine Tambor,
Spruance changed course and withdrew to the east, turning back west
towards the enemy at midnight. For his part, Yamamoto initially
decided to continue the engagement and sent his remaining surface
forces searching eastward for the American carriers. Simultaneously,
he detached a cruiser raiding force to bombard the island. The
Japanese surface forces failed to make contact with the Americans
because Spruance had decided to briefly withdraw eastward, and
Yamamoto ordered a general withdrawal to the west. It was
fortunate Spruance did not pursue, for had he come in contact with
Yamamoto's heavy ships, including Yamato, in the dark and considering
the Japanese Navy's superiority in night-attack tactics at the time,
there is a very high probability his cruisers would have been
overwhelmed and his carriers sunk.
Spruance failed to regain contact with Yamamoto's forces on 5 June,
despite extensive searches. Towards the end of the day he launched a
search-and-destroy mission to seek out any remnants of Nagumo's
carrier force. This late afternoon strike narrowly missed detecting
Yamamoto's main body and failed to score hits on a straggling Japanese
destroyer. The strike planes returned to the carriers after nightfall,
prompting Spruance to order Enterprise and Hornet to turn on their
lights to aid the landings.
At 02:15 on the night of 5/6 June, Commander John Murphy's Tambor,
lying 90 nautical miles (170 km; 100 mi) west of Midway,
made the second of the submarine force's two major contributions to
the battle's outcome, although its impact was heavily blunted by
Murphy himself. Sighting several ships, neither Murphy nor his
executive officer, Edward Spruance (son of
Admiral Spruance), could
identify them. Uncertain of whether they were friendly or not and
unwilling to approach any closer to verify their heading or type,
Murphy decided to send a vague report of "four large ships" to Admiral
Robert English, Commander,
Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC).
This report was passed on by English to Nimitz, who then sent it to
Spruance. Spruance, a former submarine commander, was "understandably
furious" at the vagueness of Murphy's report, as it provided him with
little more than suspicion and no concrete information on which to
make his preparations. Unaware of the exact location of
Yamamoto's "Main Body" (a persistent problem since the time PBYs had
first sighted the Japanese), Spruance was forced to assume the "four
large ships" reported by Tambor represented the main invasion force
and so he moved to block it, while staying 100 nautical miles
(190 km; 120 mi) northeast of Midway.
In reality, the ships sighted by Tambor were the detachment of four
cruisers and two destroyers Yamamoto had sent to bombard Midway. At
02:55, these ships received Yamamoto's order to retire and changed
course to comply. At about the same time as this change of
course, Tambor was sighted and during maneuvers designed to avoid a
submarine attack, the heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma collided,
inflicting serious damage on Mogami's bow. The less severely damaged
Mikuma slowed to 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) to keep
pace. Only at 04:12 did the sky brighten enough for Murphy to be
certain the ships were Japanese, by which time staying surfaced was
hazardous and he dived to approach for an attack. The attack was
unsuccessful and at around 06:00 he finally reported two westbound
Mogami-class cruisers, before diving again and playing no further role
in the battle. Limping along on a straight course at
12 knots—roughly one-third their top speed—Mogami and Mikuma
had been almost perfect targets for a submarine attack. As soon as
Tambor returned to port, Spruance had Murphy relieved of duty and
reassigned to a shore station, citing his confusing contact report,
poor torpedo shooting during his attack run, and general lack of
aggression, especially as compared to Nautilus, the oldest of the 12
boats at Midway and the only one which had successfully placed a
torpedo on target (albeit a dud).
Over the following two days, several strikes were launched against the
stragglers, first from Midway, then from Spruance's carriers. Mikuma
was eventually sunk by Dauntlesses, while Mogami survived further
severe damage to return home for repairs. The destroyers Arashio and
Asashio were also bombed and strafed during the last of these
attacks. Captain Richard E. Fleming, a U.S. Marine Corps aviator,
was killed while executing a glide bomb run on Mikuma and was
posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Meanwhile, salvage efforts on Yorktown were encouraging, and she was
taken in tow by USS Vireo. In the late afternoon of 6 June, the
Japanese submarine I-168, which had managed to slip through the
cordon of destroyers (possibly because of the large amount of debris
in the water), fired a salvo of torpedoes, two of which struck
Yorktown. There were few casualties aboard, since most of the crew had
already been evacuated, but a third torpedo from this salvo struck the
destroyer USS Hammann, which had been providing auxiliary power
to Yorktown. Hammann broke in two and sank with the loss of 80 lives,
mostly because her own depth charges exploded. With further salvage
efforts deemed hopeless, the remaining repair crews were evacuated
from Yorktown, which sank just after 05:00 on 7 June.
Japanese and US casualties
Mikuma shortly before sinking
By the time the battle ended, 3,057 Japanese had died. Casualties
aboard the four carriers were: Akagi: 267; Kaga: 811; Hiryu: 392;
Soryu: 711 (including Captain Yanagimoto, who chose to remain on
board); a total of 2,181. The heavy cruisers Mikuma (sunk; 700
casualties) and Mogami (badly damaged; 92) accounted for another 792
In addition, the destroyers Arashio (bombed; 35) and Asashio (strafed
by aircraft; 21) were both damaged during the air attacks which sank
Mikuma and caused further damage to Mogami. Floatplanes were lost from
the cruisers Chikuma (3) and Tone (2). Dead aboard the destroyers
Tanikaze (11), Arashi (1), Kazagumo (1) and the fleet oiler Akebono
Maru (10) made up the remaining 23 casualties.[nb 5]
At the end of the battle, the U.S. lost the carrier Yorktown and a
destroyer. 307 Americans had been killed, including Major General
Clarence L. Tinker, Commander, 7th Air Force, who personally led a
bomber strike from
Hawaii against the retreating Japanese forces on 7
June. He was killed when his aircraft crashed near Midway Island.
A rescued U.S. airman on Midway
After winning a clear victory, and as pursuit became too hazardous
near Wake, American forces retired. Spruance once again withdrew
to the east to refuel his destroyers and rendezvous with the carrier
Saratoga, which was ferrying much-needed replacement aircraft.
Fletcher transferred his flag to Saratoga on the afternoon of 8 June
and resumed command of the carrier force. For the remainder of that
day and then 9 June, Fletcher continued to launch search missions from
the three carriers to ensure the Japanese were no longer advancing on
Midway. Late on 10 June a decision was made to leave the area and the
American carriers eventually returned to Pearl Harbor.
Historian Samuel E. Morison noted in 1949 that Spruance was subjected
to much criticism for not pursuing the retreating Japanese, thus
allowing their surface fleet to escape.
Clay Blair argued in 1975
that had Spruance pressed on, he would have been unable to launch his
aircraft after nightfall, and his cruisers would have been overwhelmed
by Yamamoto's powerful surface units, including Yamato.
Furthermore, the American air groups had suffered considerable losses,
including most of their torpedo bombers. This made it unlikely that
they would be effective in an airstrike against the Japanese
battleships, even if they had managed to catch them during
daytime. Also, by this time Spruance's destroyers were critically
low on fuel.
Japanese survivors of the Hiryu picked up by USS Ballard
On 10 June, the
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy conveyed to the military
liaison conference an incomplete picture of the results of the battle.
Chūichi Nagumo's detailed battle report was submitted to the high
command on 15 June. It was intended only for the highest echelons in
the Japanese Navy and government, and was guarded closely throughout
the war. In it, one of the more striking revelations is the comment on
the Mobile Force Commander's (Nagumo's) estimates: "The enemy is not
aware of our plans (we were not discovered until early in the morning
of the 5th at the earliest)." In reality, the whole operation had
been compromised from the beginning by Allied code-breaking
The Japanese public and much of the military command structure were
kept in the dark about the extent of the defeat: Japanese news
announced a great victory. Only Emperor
Hirohito and the highest Navy
command personnel were accurately informed of the carrier and pilot
losses. Consequently, even the
Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) continued
to believe, for at least a short time, that the fleet was in good
On the return of the Japanese fleet to
Hashirajima on 14 June the
wounded were immediately transferred to naval hospitals; most were
classified as "secret patients", placed in isolation wards and
quarantined from other patients and their own families to keep this
major defeat secret. The remaining officers and men were quickly
dispersed to other units of the fleet and, without being allowed to
see family or friends, were shipped to units in the South Pacific,
where the majority died in battle. None of the flag officers or
staff of the
Combined Fleet were penalized, with Nagumo later being
placed in command of the rebuilt carrier force.
As a result of the defeat, new procedures were adopted whereby more
Japanese aircraft were refueled and re-armed on the flight deck,
rather than in the hangars, and the practice of draining all unused
fuel lines was adopted. The new carriers being built were redesigned
to incorporate only two flight deck elevators and new firefighting
equipment. More carrier crew members were trained in damage-control
and firefighting techniques, although the losses later in the war of
Shōkaku, Hiyō, and especially Taihō suggest that there were still
problems in this area.
Replacement pilots were pushed through an abbreviated training regimen
in order to meet the short-term needs of the fleet. This led to a
sharp decline in the quality of the aviators produced. These
inexperienced pilots were fed into front-line units, while the
veterans who remained after Midway and the Solomons campaign were
forced to share an increased workload as conditions grew more
desperate, with few being given a chance to rest in rear areas or in
the home islands. As a result, Japanese naval air groups as a whole
progressively deteriorated during the war while their American
adversaries continued to improve.
Three U.S. airmen, Ensign Wesley Osmus, a pilot from Yorktown; Ensign
Frank O'Flaherty, a pilot from Enterprise; and Aviation Machinist's
Mate Bruno F. (or P.) Gaido, the radioman-gunner of O'Flaherty's SBD,
were captured by the Japanese during the battle. Osmus was held on
Arashi; O'Flaherty and Gaido on the cruiser Nagara (or destroyer
Makigumo, sources vary); all three were interrogated, and then killed
by being tied to water-filled kerosene cans and thrown overboard to
drown. The report filed by Nagumo tersely states of Ensign Osmus,
"He died on 6 June and was buried at sea"; O'Flaherty and Gaido's
fates were not mentioned in Nagumo's report. The execution of
Ensign Wesley Osmus in this manner was apparently ordered by Arashi's
captain, Watanabe Yasumasa (if Watanabe had survived the war, rather
than having died when the destroyer Numakaze sank in December 1943, he
would have likely been tried as a war criminal).
Two enlisted men from Mikuma were rescued from a life raft on 9 June
by USS Trout and brought to Pearl Harbor. After receiving medical
care, at least one of these sailors cooperated during interrogation
and provided intelligence. Another 35 crewmen from Hiryu were
taken from a lifeboat by USS Ballard on 19 June after being
spotted by an American search plane. They were brought to Midway and
then transferred to
Pearl Harbor on USS Sirius.
Fuchida's flight engineer Kazuo Kanegasaki was among the
prisoners, and his experience as a POW influenced Fuchida to become a
christian after the war.
This SBD-2 was one of sixteen dive bombers of
VMSB-241 launched from
Midway on the morning of 4 June. Holed 219 times in the attack on the
carrier Hiryu, it survives today at the National Naval Aviation Museum
at Pensacola, Florida.
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway has often been called "the turning point of the
Pacific". It was the Allies' first major naval victory against
the Japanese, 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
Yamamoto hoped, his country might have revived
Operation FS to invade
Fiji and Samoa; attacked Australia, Alaska, and Ceylon; or
even attempted to conquer Hawaii.
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, 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
Guadalcanal Campaign is also regarded by some as a
turning point in the Pacific War.
Some authors have stated that heavy losses in carriers and veteran
aircrews at Midway permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese
Navy. Parshall and Tully have stated that the heavy losses in
veteran aircrew (110, just under 25% of the aircrew embarked on the
four carriers) 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. 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.[nb 6] A few months after Midway, the JNAF sustained
similar casualty rates in the
Battle of the Eastern Solomons
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
After the battle, Shōkaku and Zuikaku were the only large carriers of
Pearl Harbor strike force left for offensive actions. 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. 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. By 1942 the
United States was already three
years into a shipbuilding program mandated by the Second Vinson Act,
intended to make the navy larger than all the Axis navies combined,
plus the British and French navies, which it was feared might fall
into Axis hands.
United States and
Japan accelerated the training of aircrew,
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. 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 obsolescent, 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
Battle of Midway
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.
Discovery of sunken vessels
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. 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.
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 Nautilus, the
expedition located a large piece of wreckage, subsequently identified
as having come from the upper hangar deck of Kaga. The main wreck of
Kaga has yet to be located.
The Midway Memorial
Chicago Municipal Airport, important to the war effort in World War
II, was renamed
Chicago Midway International Airport
Chicago Midway International Airport (or simply Midway
Airport) in 1949 in honor of the battle.
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.
Henderson Field (Guadalcanal)
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.
An escort carrier, USS Midway (CVE-63) was commissioned on 17 August
1943. She was renamed St. Lo on 10 October 1944 to clear the name
Midway for a large fleet aircraft carrier,
USS Midway (CV-41), which was commissioned on 10 September
1945, eight days after the Japanese surrender, and is now docked in
San Diego, California, as the USS Midway Museum.
On 13 September 2000, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt
designated the lands and waters of
Midway Atoll National Wildlife
Refuge as the
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway National Memorial.
Military of the
United States portal
United States Navy portal
World War II
World War II portal
First Bombardment of Midway, a 7 December 1941 attack on Midway by two
Kido Butai (機動部隊 lit. Mobile Unit/Force) was the
Combined Fleet's tactical designation for its carrier battle group.
This title was used as a term of convenience and was not a formal name
for the organization. One month after Midway, the
Kido Butai was
disbanded and its surviving ships were transferred to Third Fleet.
^ The code names "Val", "Kate" and "Zeke", which are often applied to
these aircraft, were not introduced until late 1943 by the Allied
forces. The D3A was normally referred to by the Japanese as Type 99
Navy dive bomber, the B5N as the Type 97 Navy torpedo bomber and the
A6M as the Type 0 Navy fighter; the latter was colloquially known as
^ Other sources claim a stern hit, but Parshall and Tully make a case
for a near miss, because of rudder damage from a high explosive
^ Parshall and Tully argue that even if Kaga had been towed back to
Japan, the permanent structural damage caused by the inferno onboard
would likely have made the carrier unusable for anything except
^ Japanese casualty figures for the battle were compiled by Sawaichi
Hisae for her book Midowei Kaisen: Kiroku p. 550: the list was
compiled from Japanese prefectural records and is the most accurate to
Japan was less mechanized than America and the highly
trained aircraft mechanics, fitters and technicians lost at Midway
were all but impossible to replace and train to a similar level of
efficiency. In contrast, the extensive use of machinery in the United
States meant that a much larger portion of the population had a
^ Shinano, commissioned on 19 November 1944, was only the fourth fleet
carrier commissioned by
Japan during the war, after Taihō, Unryū,
^ Blair 1975, p. 240 map
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 90–91
^ "The Battle of Midway". Office of Naval Intelligence.
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 524
^ a b Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 114, 365, 377–380, 476
^ a b "Battle of Midway: June 4–7, 1942". Naval History &
Heritage Command. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
^ Dull 1978, p. 166
^ "A Brief History of Aircraft Carriers: Battle of Midway". U.S. Navy.
2007. Archived from the original on 12 June 2007. Retrieved 12 June
^ Keegan 2005, p. 275
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 13–15, 21–23;
Willmott 1983, pp. 39–49; Parshall & Tully 2005,
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 33; Prange, Goldstein &
Dillon 1982, p. 23
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 22–26
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 31–32
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 33
^ Willmott 1983, pp. 66–67; Parshall & Tully 2005,
^ "After the Battle of Midway".
Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
Archived from the original on 15 January 2009.
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 375–379; Willmott
1983, pp. 110–117; Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 52
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 63
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 50
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 53, derived from Japanese War
History Series (Senshi Sōshō), Volume 43 ('Midowei Kaisen'), p. 118.
^ a b Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 51, 55
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 43–45, derived from Senshi
Sōshō, p. 196.
^ "Oil and Japanese Strategy in the Solomons: A Postulate".
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 55–56
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 43–45, derived from Senshi
Sōshō, pp. 119–121.
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 80–81; Cressman
1990, p. 37
^ Lord 1967, pp. 23–26
^ Willmott 1983, p. 337
^ Cressman 1990, pp. 37–45; Lord 1967, pp. 37–39
^ Willmott 1983, p. 338
^ Zimmerman, Dwight (26 May 2012). "Battle of Midway: Repairing the
Yorktown After the Battle of the Coral Sea". Defense Media Network.
Faircount Media Group. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
^ Lord 1967, p. 39; Willmott 1983, p. 340
^ Willmott 1983, pp. 340–341
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 93–94
^ Scrivner 1987, p. 8
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 96
^ Willmott 1983, p. 101
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 65–67
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 63–64, 91
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 450–451
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 89
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 89–91
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 78–80
^ Peattie, p. 159
^ Parshall and Tully, pp. 85 and 136–145; Peattie, pp. 155–59:
Stille, pp. 14–15, 50–51
^ Willmott 1983, p. 351; Parshall & Tully 2005,
^ Lord 1967, pp. 37–39; Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 99
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 102–104; Willmott 1983,
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 101–102
^ Smith 2000, p. 134
^ "U.S. National Park Service: The Battle of Midway: Turning the Tide
in the Pacific 1. Out of Obscurity".
^ "AF Is Short of Water". The Battle of Midway. Historical
Publications. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
^ Baker, Benjamin (8 January 2016). "What If
Japan Had Won The Battle
of Midway?". The Diplomat. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
^ Smith 2000, pp. 138–141
^ a b Willmott 1983, p. 304
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 409
^ Watson, Richard. "VP-44 at Ford Island and the Battle of Midway".
Retrieved 5 October 2013.
^ Lundstrom 2006, p. 238
^ a b
Admiral Nimitz's CinCPac report of the battle. From Hyperwar.
Retrieved 13 February 2008.
^ a b "Interrogation of: Captain Toyama, Yasumi, IJN; Chief of Staff
Destroyer Squadron, flagship Jintsu (CL), at Midway". USSBS
From Hyperwar. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 107–112, 126–128, 132–134
^ Stephen 1988, pp. 166–167
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 200–204
^ Lord 1967, p. 110; Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 149
^ a b Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 207–212;
Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 149–152; "Office of Naval
Intelligence Combat Narrative: "Midway's Attack on the Enemy
Carriers"". Retrieved 28 January 2012.
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 176
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 152
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 182
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 130–132
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 156–159
^ Isom 2007, pp. 129–139
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 216–217; Parshall
& Tully 2005, pp. 159–161, 183
^ Bicheno 2001, p. 134
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 165–170
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 168–173
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 231, derived from Senshi Sōshō,
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 121–124
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, p. 233
^ Bicheno 2001, p. 163
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 217–218, 372–373;
Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 170–173.
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 231–237; Parshall
& Tully 2005, pp. 170–173; Willmott 1983,
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 174–175; Willmott 1983,
^ "1942 – Battle of Midway". Joel Shepherd. Retrieved 23 July
^ Lundstrom 1984, pp. 332–333
^ a b c Cressman 1990, pp. 84–89; Parshall & Tully 2005,
pp. 215–216, 226–227; Buell 1987, p. 494
^ a b c "Battle of Midway". Joel Shepherd. Retrieved 23 July
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 174
^ Mrazek 2008, p. 113
^ Lundstrom 1984, p. 341
^ a b Ewing 2004, pp. 71, 85, 86, 307
^ Cressman 1990, pp. 91–94
^ Blair 1975, p. 238
Douglas TBD Devastator
Douglas TBD Devastator Torpedo Bomber (1937)". Military Factory.
Archived from the original on 27 August 2015. Retrieved 27 August
^ Thruelsen 1976, pp. 186, 189, 190
^ a b c "
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway (pg 3)".
^ Crenshaw 1995, p. 158
^ Morison 1949, pp. 230–232
^ Patrick, John (2013). "The Hard Lessons Of
World War II
World War II Torpedo
Failures". Undersea Warfare (47). Archived from the original on 23
July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 215–216, 226–227
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 226–227
^ Bicheno 2001, p. 62
^ "IJN Kirishima: Tabular Record of Movement". Senkan!.
combinedfleet.com. 2006. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007.
Retrieved 6 June 2007.
^ Tillman 1976, pp. 69–73
^ "Accounts – C. Wade McClusky". cv6.org. Retrieved 26 January
^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, pp. 259–261, 267–269;
Cressman 1990, pp. 96–97; Parshall & Tully 2005,
pp. 215–216, 226–227
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 250
^ Miller 2001, p. 123.
^ a b Beevor 2012, p. 310.
^ a b Keegan 2004, p. 216.
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 253–259
^ Barrett Tillman (2012). SBD Dauntless Units of World War 2.
Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-78200-719-7.
^ a b Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 330–353
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 337.
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 312–318
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 262, 292–299, 312
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 312
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 311, 316, 318
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 323
^ a b Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 328–329, 354–359
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 356
^ a b Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 682
^ a b Blair 1975, pp. 246–247
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 344
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 382–383
^ Blair 1975, pp. 246–247; Willmott 1983, pp. 381–382
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 364–365
^ a b Blair 1975, p. 250
^ a b Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 359
^ a b Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982, p. 320; Parshall &
Tully 2005, p. 345.
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 345–346, diagram 347, 348
^ Allen, Thomas B. (April 1999). "Return to the Battle of Midway".
Journal of the National Geographic Society. Washington, D.C.: National
Geographic. 195 (4): 80–103 (p. 89). ISSN 0027-9358. Archived
from the original on 11 October 2009.
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 377
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 362
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 374–375, 383
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 476
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 378, 380
^ a b Blair 1975, p. 247
^ Lundstrom 2006, pp. 293–296
^ Morison 1949, pp. 142–143
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 330
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 382
^ Toll 2012, p. 471
Chūichi Nagumo (June 1942). "CINC First Air Fleet Detailed Battle
Report no. 6".
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 92–93
^ Bix 2001, p. 449
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 386
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 386–387
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 388
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 388–389
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 390–391
^ Barde 1983, pp. 188–192
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 583
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 566
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 584
^ "Naval History and Heritage Command, Interrogation of Japanese
^ "Naval History and Heritage Command, Battle of Midway".
^ "Naval History and Heritage Command, Survivors of Hiryu".
^ "Mitsuo Fuchida".
^ SBD-2 Aircraft, Bureau Number 2106, National Naval Aviation Museum
Collections, 13 January 1994, archived from the original on 29 June
2016, retrieved 12 April 2016
^ Dull 1978, p. 166; Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1982,
^ U.S. Naval War College Analysis, p.1; Parshall & Tully 2005,
^ Baker, Benjamin David (2016-01-08). "What If
Japan Had Won The
Battle of Midway?". The Diplomat.
^ Willmott 1983, pp. 522–523; Parshall & Tully 2005,
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 422–423
^ Fisher, Scott; Forney, Nathan (1996). "The Turning Point of the
Pacific War: Two Views". CombinedFleet.com. Retrieved
^ Dull 1978, p. 166; Willmott 1983, pp. 519–523; Prange,
Goldstein & Dillon 1982, p. 395
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 432
^ a b Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 417
^ a b Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 416–417, 432
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, p. 421
Japan Really Lost The War". CombinedFleet.com. Retrieved 23
^ Davidson 1996, p. 21
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 390–392
^ Chesneau 1980, pp. 169–170, 183–184
^ Zimmerman, Dwight Jon. "Operation Vengeance: The Mission to Kill
Admiral Yamamoto". DefenseMediaNetwork. Archived from the original on
27 August 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
^ Gordon W. Prange, Miracle at Midway (1982)
^ For the Japanese perspective see Jonathan Parshall and Anthony
Tully, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
^ "Titanic explorer finds Yorktown". CNN. 4 June 1998. Retrieved 1
^ Parshall & Tully 2005, pp. 491–493
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original on 27 August 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
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dondennisfamily.com. Archived from the original on 27 August 2015.
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27 August 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway National Memorial". U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. 22 March 2012. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009.
Retrieved 10 March 2012.
Barde, Robert E. (December 1983). "Midway: Tarnished Victory".
Military Affairs. 47 (4). ISSN 0899-3718.
Beevor, Antony (2012). The Second World War. New York: Back Bay Books.
Bicheno, Hugh (2001). Midway. London: Orion Publishing Group.
Bix, Herbert P. (2001).
Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. New
York: Perennial / HarperCollinsPublishers.
Blair, Clay, Jr. (1975). Silent Victory: The U.S.
Against Japan. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.
Buell, Thomas B. (1987). The Quiet Warrior: a Biography of Admiral
Raymond A. Spruance. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships,
1922–1946. London: Conway Maritime Press.
Crenshaw, Russell Sydnor (1995). The Battle of Tassafaronga.
Baltimore, Maryland: Nautical & Aviation Pub. Co. of America.
Cressman, Robert J.; Ewing, Steve; Tillman, Barrett; Horan, Mark;
Reynolds, Clark; Cohen, Stan (1990). "A Glorious page in our history,"
Adm. Chester Nimitz, 1942: The Battle of Midway, 4–6 June 1942.
Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Pub. Co.
Davidson, Joel R. (1996). The Unsinkable Fleet: the Politics of U.S.
Navy Expansion in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute
Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-156-1.
Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy
(1941–1945). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
ISBN 1-59114-219-9. Midway was indeed 'the' decisive battle of
the war in the Pacific.
Ewing, Steve (2004). Thach Weave: The Life of Jimmie Thach. Annapolis,
Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-248-2.
Isom, Dallas Woodbury (2007). Midway Inquest: Why the Japanese Lost
the Battle of Midway. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Keegan, John (2004). Intelligence in War. New York: Vintage Books.
Keegan, John (2005). The Second World War. New York: Penguin.
p. 275. ISBN 978-0-14-303573-2. OCLC 904565693.
Lord, Walter (1967). Incredible Victory. New York: Harper and Row.
ISBN 1-58080-059-9. Focuses primarily on the human
experience of the battle.
Lundstrom, John B. (1984). The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat
Pearl Harbor to Midway. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute
Press. ISBN 1-59114-471-X.
Lundstrom, John B. (2006). Black Shoe Carrier Admiral : Frank
Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. Annapolis: Naval
Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-475-5.
Miller, Donald L. (2001). The Story of World War II. New York: Simon
& Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-2718-6.
Morison, Samuel E. (1949). Coral Sea, Midway and
May 1942 – August 1942. History of
United States Naval Operations in
World War II. Volume 4. Boston: Little Brown.
Mrazek, Robert (2008). A Dawn Like thunder : The True Story of
Torpedo Squadron Eight. New York: Little, Brown and Co.
ISBN 978-0-316-02139-5. OCLC 225870332.
Parshall, Jonathan; Tully, Anthony (2005). Shattered Sword: The Untold
Story of the Battle of Midway. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books.
ISBN 1-57488-923-0. Uses recently translated Japanese
Potter, E. B.; Nimitz, Chester W. (1960). Sea Power: A Naval History.
Prentice-Hall Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. OCLC 395062.
Prange, Gordon W.; Goldstein, DonaldM.; Dillon, Katherine V. (1982).
Miracle at Midway. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ISBN 0-07-050672-8. The standard academic history of the
battle based on massive research into American and Japanese sources.
Scrivner, Charles L. (1987). TBM/TBF Avenger in Action. Carrollton,
Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc.
ISBN 0-89747-197-0. Photos of
VT-8 TBF-1s, including sole
survivor of VT-8's attack against Japanese carrier fleet
Smith, Michael (2000). The Emperor's Codes: Bletchley Park and the
breaking of Japan's secret ciphers. London: Bantam Press.
Stephen, Martin (1988). Sea Battles in Close-up: World War Two.
London: Ian Allan. ISBN 978-0-7110-1596-8.
Thruelsen, Richard (1976). The Grumman Story. Praeger Press.
Tillman, Barrett (1976). The Dauntless Dive-bomber of World War Two.
Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
Toll, Ian W. (2012). Pacific Crucible, War in the Pacific,
1941–1942. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Willmott, H. P. (1983). The Barrier and the Javelin: Japanese and
Allied Strategies, February to June 1942. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval
Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-949-5. Broad-scale history of
the naval war with detailed accounts of order of battle and
See also: Bibliography of Midway Atoll
Evans, David; Peattie, Mark R. (1997). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and
Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887–1941. Annapolis,
Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-192-7.
Masatake Okumiya (1955). Midway: The Battle that
Doomed Japan, the Japanese Navy's Story. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval
Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-372-5. A Japanese account;
numerous assertions in this work have been challenged by more recent
Hanson, Victor D. (2001). Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the
Rise of Western Power. New York: Doubleday.
Hara, Tameichi (1961). Japanese
Destroyer Captain. New York:
Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-27894-1. First-hand account by
Japanese captain, often inaccurate.
Holmes, W. (1979). Double-Edged Secrets: U.S. Naval Intelligence
Operations in the Pacific During
World War II
World War II (Bluejacket Books).
Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
Kahn, David. The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret
Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet. New York: Scribner.
ISBN 0-684-83130-9. Significant section on Midway
Kernan, Alvin (2005). The Unknown Battle of Midway. New Haven,
Connecticut: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10989-X. An
account of the blunders that led to the near total destruction of the
American torpedo squadrons, and of what the author calls a cover-up by
naval officers after the battle.
Layton, Edwin T. (1985). And I Was There:
Pearl Harbor and Midway. New
York: W. Morrow. ISBN 978-0-688-04883-9.
Peattie, Mark R. Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power,
1909–1941. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
Smith, Douglas V. (2006). Carrier Battles: Command Decision in Harm's
Way. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
Smith, Peter C. (2007). Midway Dauntless Victory; Fresh perspectives
on America's Seminal Naval Victory of 1942. Barnsley, UK: Pen &
Sword Maritime. ISBN 1-84415-583-8. Detailed study of
battle, from planning to the effects on World War II
Stephan, John J. (1984).
Hawaii Under the Rising Sun: Japan's Plans
for Conquest after Pearl Harbor. Honolulu: University of
Stille, Mark (2007). USN Carriers vs IJN Carriers: The Pacific 1942.
New York: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-248-6.
Willmott, H. P. (2004). The Second World War in the Far East.
Smithsonian History of Warfare. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books.
p. 240. ISBN 1-58834-192-5.
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"The Course to Midway Turning Point in the Pacific". Archived from the
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"The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway" – ONI Review – Vol.
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