Battle of Midway

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Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942 WW2


Battle of Midway
 
Midway
 
Midway Battle
 
Midway Carriers

The Battle of Midway or Midway Game, 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 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 Doolitle 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.

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At 0430 in the morning of 4 June 1942, while 240 miles northwest of Midway, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's four carriers began launching 108 planes to attack the U.S. base there. Unknown to the Japanese, three U.S. carriers were steaming 215 miles to the east. The two opposing fleets sent out search planes, the Americans to locate an enemy they knew was there and the Japanese as a matter of operational prudence. Seaplanes from Midway were also patrolling along the expected enemy course. One of these spotted, and reported, the Japanese carrier striking force at about 0530.

That seaplane also reported the incoming Japanese planes, and radar confirmed the approaching attack shortly thereafter. Midway launched its own planes. Navy, Marine and Army bombers headed off to attack the Japanese fleet. Midway's Marine Corps Fighting Squadron 221 (VMF-221) intercepted the enemy formation at about 0615. However, the Marines were immediately engaged by an overwhelming force of the very superior Japanese "Zero" fighters and were able to shoot down only a few of the enemy bombers, while suffering great losses themselves.

The Japanese planes hit Midway's two inhabited islands at 0630. Twenty minutes of bombing and straffing knocked out some facilities on Eastern Island, but did not disable the airfield there. Sand Island's oil tanks, seaplane hangar and other buildings were set afire or otherwise damaged. As the Japanese flew back toward their carriers the attack commander, Lieutenant Joichi Tomonaga, radioed ahead that another air strike was required to adequately soften up Midway's defenses for invasion.

While their aviators flew back from Midway, the Japanese carriers received several counterstrikes from Midway's own planes. Faced with overwhelming fighter opposition, these uncoordinated efforts suffered severe losses and hit nothing but sea water. Shortly after 0700, torpedo attacks were made by six Navy TBF-1s and four Army Air Force B-26s. Between 0755 and 0820, two groups of Marine Corps bombers and a formation of Army B-17s came in. The only positive results were photographs of three Japanese carriers taken by the high-flying B-17s, the sole surviving photos of the day's attacks on the Japanese carriers.

Meanwhile, a tardy Japanese scout plane had spotted the U.S. fleet and, just as Midway's counterattacks were ending, reported the presence of a carrier. Japanese commander Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo had begun rearming his second group of planes for another strike on Midway. He now had to reorganize that, recover the planes returning from Midway and respot his flight decks to launch an attack on the U.S. ships. Nagumo's force barely missed having enough time.

In the hour after about 0930, U.S. Navy planes from the carriers Hornet (CV-8), Enterprise (CV-6) and Yorktown made a series of attacks, initially by three squadrons of TBD torpedo planes that, despite nearly total losses, made no hits. The sacrifice of the TBDs did slow Japanese preparations for their own strike and disorganized the defending fighters. Then, at about 1025, everything changed. Three squadrons of SBD scout bombers, two from Enterprise and one from Yorktown, almost simultaneously dove on three of the four Japanese carriers, whose decks were crowded with fully armed and fueled planes that were just starting to take off. In a few minutes, akagi, Kaga and Soryu were ablaze and out of action.

Of the once-overwhelming Japanese carrier force, only Hiryu remained operational. A few hours later, her planes crippled USS Yorktown. By the end of the day, though, U.S. carrier planes found and bombed Hiryu. Deprived of useful air cover, and after several hours of shocked indecision, Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto called off the Midway operation and retreated. Six months after it began, the great Japanese Pacific War offensive was over.


U.S. Pacific Fleet ORDER OF BATTLE Midway

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 R. 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
  • MIDWAY SHORE-BASED AIR -- Capt. Cyril T. Simard
    • Detatchment of PatWing 1 and 2
      • 32 PBY-5 and PBY-5A Catalinas
      • VT-8 Detatchment -- 6 TBF
    • Marine Aircraft Group 22, 2nd Marine Air Wing -- Lt. Col Ira L. Kimes
      • VMF-221 -- 20 F2A-3, 7 F4F-3
      • VMSB-241 -- 11 SB2U-3, 16 SBD-2
    • Detatchment of 7th Army Air Force -- Maj. Gen. Willis P. Hale
      • 4 B-26, 19 B-17
      • VMSB-241 -- 11 SB2U-3, 16 SBD-2
  • MIDWAY LOCAL DEFENSES -- Captain Simard
    • 6th Marine Bn (reinforced), Fleet Marine Forces, Col. Harold D. Shannon
    • Motor Torpedo Squadron 1
      • 8 PT Boats at Midway, 2 at Kure, 4 small patrol craft
    • Deployed in area
      • 2 tenders, 1DD at French Frigate Shoals
      • 1 oiler, 1 converted yacht, 1 minesweeper at Pearl and Hermes Reef
      • 2 converted tuna boats at Lisianski, Gardner, Pinnacles, Laysan, and Necker
    • Deployed in area Midway Relief Fueling Unit -- 1 oiler, 2 DDs
  • FORCES IN THE ALEUTIAN CAMPAIGN
    • Task Force 8 -- RADM Robert A. Theobald (in Nashville)
      • TG 8.6 Main Body -- 2 CA, 3 CL
        • DesDiv 11 -- 4 DDs
      • TG 8.1 Air Search Group
        • 3 tenders with 20 PBY of PatWing 4; 1 B-17
      • TG 8.2 Surface Search or Scouting Group
        • 1 gunboat, 1 oiler, 14 YP, 5 Coast Guard cutters
      • TG 8.3 Air Striking Group
        • Ft. Randall -- 21 fighters, 14 bombers
        • Ft. Glenn, Umnak -- 12 fighters
        • Kodiak -- 32 fighters, 5 bombers, 2 light bombers
        • Anchorage -- 44 fighters, 24 bombers, 2 light bombers
      • TG 8.4 Destroyer Striking Group -- 9DDs
      • TG 8.5 Submarine Group -- 6 submarines
      • TG 8.9 Tanker Group -- 2 oilers, SS Comet



Imperial Japan Navy ORDER OF BATTLE Midway

  • 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
      • CruDiv 4 (less 2nd section)
        • Atago (CA, flagship), Chokakai (CA)
      • CruDiv 5 -- Myoko (CA), Haguro (CA)
      • BatDiv 3 (less 2nd section) -- Kongo, Hiei
    • Screen (DesRon 4) RADM Shoji Nishimura
      • Yura (CL, flagship)
      • DesDiv 2 -- 4 DDs
      • DesDiv 9 -- 3 DDs
    • Carrier Group
      • Zuiho (CVL) -- 12 Zero fighters, 12 torpedo bombers; 1 DD
    • Supply Group -- 4 oilers, 1 repair ship
    • Close Support Group -- VADM Takeo Kurita
      • CruDiv 7 -- Kumano (CA, flagship), Suzuya (CA), Mikuma (CA), Mogami (CA)
      • DesDiv 8 -- 2 DDs
      • 1 oiler
    • Transport Group -- RADM Raizo Tanaka
      • 12 transports carrying troops
      • 3 patrol boats carrying troops
      • 1 oiler
    • Escort -- RADM Tanaka
      • Jintsu (CL, flagship)
      • DesDiv 15 -- 2 DDs
      • DesDiv 16 -- 4 DDs
      • DesDiv 18 -- 4 DDs
    • Seaplane Tender Group -- RADM Ritutaro Fujits
      • Seaplane Tender Div 11
        • Chitose (CVS) 16 fighter seaplanes, 4 scout seaplanes
        • Kamikawa Maru (AV) 8 fighter seaplanes, 4 scout seaplanes
        • 1 DD, 1 patrol boat carrying troops
    • Minesweeper Group
      • 4 minesweepers
      • 3 submarine chasers
      • 1 supply ship
      • 2 cargo ships
  • NORTHERN (Aleutians) FORCE (5th Fleet) VADM Moshiro Hosogaya
    • Northern Force Main Body
        • Nachi (CA, flagship)
        • Screen -- 2 DDs
        • Supply Group -- 2 oilers, 3 cargo ships
    • Second Carrier Striking Force -- RADM Kakuji Kahuta
      • Carrier Group (CarDiv 4)
        • Ryujo (CVL, flagship) -- 21 Zero fighters, 21 dive bombers
        • Junyo (CV) -- 24 Zero fighters, 21 dive bombers
      • Support Group (2nd section, CruDiv 4) -- Maya (CA), Takeo (CA)
      • Screen (DesDiv 7) -- 3 DD, 1 oiler
      • Attu Invasion Force -- RADM Sentaro Omori
        • Abukuma (CL, flagship)
        • DesDiv 21 - 4 DDs
        • 1 minelayer
        • 1 transport carrying troops
      • Kiska Invasion Force -- Capt. Takeji Ono
        • CruDiv 21 Kiso (CL), Tama (CL), Asaka Maru (auxillary cruiser)
        • Screen (DesDiv 6) - 3 DDs
        • Minesweeper Div. 13 -- 3 minesweepers
        • 2 transports carrying troops
      • Submarine Detatchment -- RADM Shigeaki Yamazaki
        • SubRon1 -- I-9 (flagship)
          • SubDiv 2 -- 3 submarines
          • SubDiv 4 -- 2 submarines

ADVANCE (Submarine) FORCE (6th Fleet) VADM Teruhisa Komatsu

  • Katori (CL, flagship) at Kwejalein
  • SubRon 3 -- RADM Chimaki Kono
    • Rio de Janeiro Maru (submarine tender, flagship) at Kwejalein
    • SubDiv 19 -- 4 submarines
    • SubDiv 30 -- 3 submarines
    • SubDiv 13 -- 3 submarines
  • SHORE-BASED AIR PATROL (11th Air Fleet) VADM Nishizo Tsukahara at Tinian
    • Midway Expeditionary Force -- Capt. Chisato Morita
      • 36 Zero fighters (aboard Nagumo's carriers)
      • 10 land-based bombers at Wake, 6 flying boats at Jaluit
    • 24th Air Flotilla -- RADM Minoru Maeda at Kwajelein
      • Chitose Air Group -- 36 Zero fighters, 36 torpedo bombers at Kwajelein
      • 1st Air Group -- 36 Zero fighters, 36 torpedo bombers at Aur and Wotje
      • 14th Air Group -- 18 flying boats at Jaluit and Wotje


Battle of Midway Casualties

By the time the battle of Midway ended, 3,057 Japanese had died. The four carriers sunk and their casualties were: Akagi: 267; Kaga: 811; Hiryu: 392; Soryu: 711; a combined total of 2,181.[97] The heavy cruisers Mikuma (sunk): 700; and Mogami (badly damaged): 92; between them took a total of 792 casualties.

In addition, the destroyers Arashio (bombed): 35; and Asashio (strafed by aircraft): 21; were both attacked while escorting the damaged heavy cruisers. 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; make up the remaining 23 casualties.

Credits: US Navy History Center



 
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World War 1; World War 2 Operations, Weapons Data; Modern Weapons Data; Modern Wars; Combat Organizations
Pearl Harbor Overview Pearl Harbor Japanese Forces Pearl Harbor Japanese Aircraft Battle of the Coral Sea Doolitle Raid on Japan Battle of Midway Midway_Order_of_Battle Guadalcanal Campaign Guadalcanal-Tulagi Invasion Battle of the Philippine Sea Battle of Iwo Jima Battle of Okinawa Japan Capitulates Torch Operation WW2 WW2 Normandy Invasion, June 1944 Normandy Invasion Crossing the English Channel on D-Day, 6 June 1944 The D-Day Landings, 6 June 1944
Japan Planes - List of Aircraft Imperial Japan Navy Admirals Japan WW2 Fighters- Mitsubishi Zero Yamato_Battleship Musashi_Battleship
LIST OF PLANES US AIR FORCE WW2 USN WW2 Torpedo Bomber - Douglas TBD-1 Devastator USN WW2 Fighters: Brewster F2A Buffalo, Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk Grumman F3F, Grumman F4F Wildcat, General Motors FM-2 Wildcat LOCKHEED P-38 LIGHTNING F-82 TWIN MUSTANG REPUBLIC P-47 THUNDERBOLT NORTH AMERICAN P-51 MUSTANG Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Boeing B-29 Superfortress Consolidated B-24 D Liberator North American B-25 Mitchell, Martin B-26 Marauder
HMS Prince of Wales Battleship, HMS Repulse HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hood Battlecruisers Battle of Crete - Operation Mercury WW2 Battle of Taranto Battle of Cape Matapan Battle of Narvik Battle of the River Plate, Battle of Dunkirk, Battle of the Atlantic

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Battle of Midway