Skip to comments.Navy marks Battle of Midway's 70th anniversary (It happened 70 years ago today)
Posted on 06/04/2012 5:35:05 AM PDT by Zakeet
Six months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan sent four aircraft carriers to the tiny Pacific atoll of Midway to draw out and destroy what remained of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
But this time the U.S. knew about Japan's plans. U.S. cryptologists had cracked Japanese communications codes, giving Fleet Commander Adm. Chester Nimitz notice of where Japan would strike, the day and time of the attack, and what ships the enemy would bring to the fight.
The U.S. was badly outnumbered and its pilots less experienced than Japan's. Even so, it sank four Japanese aircraft carriers the first day of the three-day battle and put Japan on the defensive, greatly diminishing its ability to project air power as it had in the attack on Hawaii.
On Monday, current Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Cecil Haney and other officials will fly 1,300 miles northwest from Oahu to Midway to market the 70th anniversary of the pivotal battle that changed the course of the Pacific war.
(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...
2 months later the USMC started being equipped with the F4U Corsair. It would rip through the A6m Zero’s like a buzzsaw. Also the P-38 would wreak havoc on them. In Helmet for my Pillow the marines knew the end was near for the Japanese when the P-38’s arrived at Henderson Field.
Ahh yes, the wonders you can do with a manufacturing base....
Both of these decisions were based on political whim rather than sound strategy. Both resulted in avoidable debacles. Worse decisions followed. A shrewder man than Hitler could have easily destroyed the Soviets. But by 1941 Hitler was unable to construct an effective plan against them. He defeated himself.
One of the three main turning points of WWII, all of which occurred (largely) in 1942, the other two being Stalingrad and El Alamein. I say largely because Stalingrad didn’t wrap up until early 1943.
Battle of Midway was the first movie I saw in a theater, and is still one of my favorites!
“The Japanese fought the Pacific war as if it were a land war, which is weird because as an nation of islands they have a long maritime tradition. Sending those two carrier groups to the Aleutians as a diversion was just nutty, and they couldnt make up the losses they suffered at Midway, probably as a consequence of the diversion.”
The Imperial Japanese Army and Navy considered each other enemies almost as strongly as they regarded the Allies. There was no concept of a “Joint Chiefs of Staff” in Japan; an Army general could holler orders all day at a Navy seaman to no avail. (General Yamashita was hanged in spite of this—for atrocities committed in Manila, primarily by Navy personnel—after the war.)
The Japanese Army had long planned for a land war against Russia on the plains of North China, Manchuria and Siberia, and their tactics and supply systems—dropped almost unchanged into the Southwest Pacific islands—reflected this. The Navy had long expected war against the US and Britain, and had spent years preparing for it (on a somewhat strict and unimaginative Mahanian basis of “decisive battle”), but had always gotten hind teat versus the Army when it came to funding and supplies.
Of course, always having to pull Mussolini’s chestnuts out of the fire didn’t help matters for Hitler.
Heh. Hitler’s alliances-and his paternal, pigheaded insistence on honoring them even when the other parties had reneged-were just part of the toxic stew of hubris and stupidity that cost the Axis the war. The alliance with Italy was by far the most damaging of these. It simultaneously emboldened and humiliated Il Duce, who was not a man given to temperance, patience and careful planning.
And as far as Japan helping Hitler against the Soviets? Yeah, right!
FDR would have been in quite a pickle if Hitler had sent condolences to the USA and broken his alliance with Japan instead. (After all, he was getting exactly zero benefit from the alliance.) The American war plan was Germany First, period. There was no real plan B. A concillatory gesture from Hitler on Dec 7th would at the least have cost the Western Allies months of delay and thrown war preparations into chaos.
The US would have sent a ship into the Atlantic just begging the Germans to fire on it, in order to give them a Casus Belli.
We were sort of doing that already before Pearl Harbor. USS Kearney and USS Reuben James, anyone?
As to the Japanese going into action against the Soviet Union, it’s well documented that it was one of the two options the Imperial General Staff was looking at. The whole reason for the Kwantung Army’s presence in Manchuria and North China was expected future action against the Soviets, and there had already been a couple of notable border incidents against Soviet forces at Changkufeng and Nomonhan. Like I said elsewhere, the Imperial Japanese Army had been planning and preparing for this for decades.
The final decision to strike south and east into Greater East Asia, instead of Russia, came because of the Japanese “need” for the oil of the Dutch East Indies and other raw materials in Malaysia and Indochina, which they needed for the ongoing war against the Chinese and bogged-down development of Manchuria. The Army had little time to plan or prepare for the island war—of long, vulnerable supply lines, lack of local food supplies, and forced dependence on the hated Imperial Navy—that followed.
Could Japan have scored any great success against the Soviet Union in 1941? The encounter at Changkufeng was a draw at best, while the battle at Nomonhan (against a minor Soviet general named Georgi Zhukov) was an utter rout for the Japanese. At the same time, the level of success Japan saw against caught-off-guard Western forces in 1941-2 is nothing to sneeze at, and given the disordered post-Purge state of the Red Army in 1941...who knows how far they might have gotten.
The flattop that was scratched at Coral Sea-Shoho.
But it was never really about Midway itself to the Japanese. The idea was to draw the US fleet out for the "Decisive Battle" that figured so heavily in Japanese doctrine. The irony is that Yamamoto's forces were so divided he was unable to fight the decisive battle he wanted.
Thanks M1903A1, great comment.
The main focus of the original United Nations was the defeat of Hitler (which is why that theater was finished first); the Russians concluded their destruction of the Wehrmacht (with the bungling help of Hitler himself) as quickly as they could, and the division of Germany was agreed upon in the wartime conferences. The western allies stopped their advance at the agreed-upon boundary.
[ Luckily, Werner Von Braun wanted to surrender to our side. The Soviet back-engineering of the V2 engines (there’s a cool photo of Sergei Korolev in uniform, standing next to a captured V2 engine) and some salting of Soviet efforts with some captured German missilemen led to some propaganda firsts, and then deaths of cosmonauts on reentry, and then the N1 disasters. ]
At Potsdam, Truman made an oblique reference to the successful A-bomb test by the US; Stalin nodded, and in private sent an inquiry home to check on on the state of the Russian nuke project. The traitors and spies in the Manhattan Project meant that Stalin already knew the US nuke project was nearing fruition (testing of the non-nuclear explosive components like those to be used in the first A-bomb had been tested the day before the German surrender).
Stalin’s main problem (as he saw it) was the contamination of the Red Army troops who met and swapped smokes and photos with the troops of the western allies. All those who could be identified from recovered photos wound up in the Gulag. He had the Soviet-occupied sector of Germany stripped of the machinery of heavy industry, and spent the rest of his time as ruthless, mass-murdering dictator trying to clean up the wartime damage and rebuild agriculture, while carrying out thousands of show trials and executions, and persecuting Russian Jews.
Anyway, I agree with you — collapse of the defensive perimeter would have followed a Japanese victory at Midway. OTOH, US victories in the Pacific land war showed that the Japanese were not any tougher or formidible than US soldiers and sailors, irrespective of their fanatical devotion to battle, and the US could decode Japanese military messages, one of the factors in the killing of Yamamoto. Also, the Japanese were never able to keep pace laying keels, and the ultimate outcome would never have been in doubt.
As a consequence of the prospect of a longer Pacific War, the US might easily have said “forget it” to Churchill’s stupid “soft underbelly” plan, which led to some of the toughest fighting of WWII — in Italy — and instead pushed for an earlier buildup in the UK, leading to an earlier D-Day. Opening that second front was what Stalin continued to demand, and was pretty insulting about the attempts in Italy. He could see that it was done for post-war political positioning, and for no other reason.