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 ...
Battle of Midway: A handful of U.S. sailors did the impossible and changed the course of a war.
“The U.S. was badly outnumbered and its pilots less experienced than Japan's”
Yes while this is true in the theater, at the actually point of attack the US Navy had the advantage, three carriers plus Midway's air field, including B-17 heavy bombers.
Love this thanks for posting.
How close a thing it was, and how those two extra carrier groups might have turned the tide against us.
Midway was the tipping point in the Pacific war.
The Japanese public wasn’t told the details of the defeat until 1955.
Thanks Zakeet for the topic, and Thank You to those who served, whether here or hereafter.
Not really. It wasn't a "miracle" either. People need to read "Shattered Sword."
We won because we were better.
The men at Station HYPO under Joseph Rochefort are the ones who deserve the most credit. They broke JN-25. Thanks to them we knew the Japs were going to attack at Midway on 4 June with Kaga, Akagi, Hiryu and Soryu.
Yep. A good big guy beats a good little guy, every single time.
The Japanese were never really in the fight. The best that they could have hoped for (in fact, what Yamamoto was hoping for) was to hit the US hard enough so that we'd leave them alone. While this in no way should diminish what we accomplished in the Pacific, the fact remains that the Japanese picked a fight that they couldn't win.
Now Germany, on the other hand, was a much closer thing. A couple of slightly different choices (von Rundstedt keeps the panzers rolling at Dunkirk, instead of stopping for 48 hours, for instance) ....and the last 70 years would have been about the 3rd Reich.
“Midway was the tipping point in the Pacific war”
I don’t think so. Even if we lost all three carriers at Midway and the Japs lost none, the outcome would still be the same. By 31 December 1943 we would have 7 Essex CVs, 9 Independence CVLs and 20 Casablanca CVEs in commission. And another 7 Essex CVs and 30 Casablanca CVEs would be commissioned in 1944. The Japanese were doomed.
Ok you strap on a Grumman Wildcat and go up against an A-6M Zeke. We will come to your funeral.
My career Navy father survived the sinking Yorktown.
After almost 92 good years the Navy returned him to the Pacific.
December 1943 was 18 months later, and while I’m sure the war would have ended by now, the ending would have been delayed by a year or more had we lost at Midway. The real Japanese land war was in China, and had been going on for years before Pearl Harbor. They’d driven out the British, and relied on the ocean itself (and those dug-in fight to the death Japanese soldiers on the needed islands) to keep the US from invading the home islands.
Had they prepared for a longer time, they would ultimately have still seen a couple of their cities get vaporized by nukes — assuming the US had the means to deliver them. Without the victory at Midway, that would have been impossible in 1945; a defeat at Midway would have had an impact on the outcome of the European war as well.
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 couldn’t make up the losses they suffered at Midway, probably as a consequence of the diversion.
A: Admiral Yamamoto was overconfident and his battle plan was deeply flawed. He assumed-incorrectly-that US carrier strenth in the Pacific was down to two ships. Therefore he was unwilling to wait for two additional heavy carriers to become available. Even worse, he split up his forces leaving the four heavy carriers that he did choose to commit with almost no screening ships.
B: Carrier Admiral Nagumo was indecisive, unimaginitive and overcautious. His insistence on re-arming the attack planes with torpedos and AP bombs after sightning the American carriers had the effect of making his own carriers into floating bombs at the exact moment that they were attacked. Too bad, so sad for him.
C: But mainly we hit them first, and hit them hardest. We were able to do this thanks to the fact that we had broken their codes. And because of the miraculously fast repairs to the Yorktown we were not as outnumbered as Yamamoto thought.
If my knowledge of written history is correct, Only one U.S. survivor lived to give a verbal report of how the Devestators got massacred.
Another myth. The Wildcat ALWAYS had a positive kill ratio against the Zero throughout the ENTIRE war. Joe Foss had 26 kills in a Wildcat while he was on Guadalcanal, most of which were A6Ms.
Given equal pilot skill, If it's a one-on-one fight, I would take the Zero. If it is 4 vs. 4 or 12 vs. 12, I will take the Wildcats EVERY time.
Greatly superior firepower and durability plus good tactics beats maneuverability. Of course, the Zero had a massive range advantage, but in any head to head fight with multiples of aircraft the Wildcats will win.
The Zero is actually one of the more overrated aircraft of the war; partially because of the shock that the Japanese weren't a bunch of nearsighted losers and could fly, and that they could build a credible airplane, but also its racking up lots of kills against poorly trained British, Dutch, and Army Air Corps pilots early in the war, against P-39s trying to engage at high altitude, etc.
At the beginning of the war USN pilots were among the best trained in the world, themselves; the gap with the Japanese wasn't as big as a lot of people think.
Churchill knew this from the moment the U.S. entered the war. The only thing bothering him was the fact that there were bound to be numerous setbacks while the U.S. mustered its full productive capacity.
I think the immediate result of a US loss at Midway would have been the collapse of the defensive perimeter in the South Seas. The USA would have redirected resources from the nascent Solomons campaign to Hawaii laving Australia to hold the islands and New Guinea alone. The pivotal 18-month bloodletting at Guadalcanal would have been avoided and Yamamoto would have had a free hand to strike either toward Hawaii, Australia or French Polynesia. In any case, a new front would be opened and Yamamoto would have bought the time he needed. By the time that US carrer strength rebuilt the situation in the Pacific would have been very, very difficult, perhaps bad enogh to force the USA into negotiations. Which was the whole reason for the Midway operation in the first place.
The United States only allocated only 15-20% of it’s resources to the war in the Pacific. If we had been defeated badly at Midway, we would allocate 35-40% of our resources to the Pacific. By the end of 1946 we were producing 3 atomic bombs a month. Japan could never win a long term war with the USA.
Yamamoto said it himself.
“In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.”
Hitler could have defeated the Soviet Union very easily, if he focused on taking Moscow....Stalin would have been finished, he was hanging by a thread as it was, the Bolsheviks may very well have been finished as well, and most likely the defense of Russia would have been taken over by non-Communists, like Vlasov, who most likely would have switched over to fighting the Germans, and perhaps gotten most of the former Red Army soldiers to fight for him.
Those Devastators were another peice of the victory puzzle. They were slaughtered, yes. But they pulled the Jap CAP down below 10,000 feet and left the skies over the carriers clear for the dive bombers.
The tactic was first tested in combat by Thach during the Battle of Midway, when his flight of four Wildcats was attacked by a squadron of Zeroes. Thach's wingman, Ensign R. A. M. Dibb, was attacked by a Japanese pilot and turned towards Thach, who dived under his wingman and fired at the incoming enemy aircraft's belly until its engine ignited.
Soon enough, the maneuver had become standard among US Navy pilots, and USAAF pilots also adopted it.
Marines flying Wildcats from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal also adopted the Thach Weave. The Japanese Zero pilots flying out of Rabaul were initially confounded by the tactic.
Sabur Sakai, the famous Japanese ace, relates their reaction to the Thach Weave when they encountered Guadalcanal Wildcats using it:
For the first time Lt. Commander Tadashi Nakajima encountered what was to become a famous double-team maneuver on the part of the enemy. Two Wildcats jumped on the commanders plane. He had no trouble in getting on the tail of an enemy fighter, but never had a chance to fire before the Grummans team-mate roared at him from the side. Nakajima was raging when he got back to Rabaul; he had been forced to dive and run for safety.
The maneuver was so effective that it was used by American pilots during the Vietnam War, and is still an applicable tactic today.
You are technically correct. I would restate it thus: "Germany could have defeated the Soviet Union very easily, if they focused on taking Moscow." Hitler, being Hitler, was incapable of such a direct and uncomplicated strategy and resisted it for several months over the protests of his best generals. By starting the Barabrossa campaign late, and by repeatedly overruling his generals Hitler ensured that his "window" for success at Moscow was vanishingly small. So IMHO, he lost in June, 1941.
The Soviet Army had really been smashed by Barbarossa. 75% of the tanks and 50% of the aircraft had been destroyed. I think Operation Typhoon started too late. By October the mud of rasputitsa had the German Army bogged down.
On the other hand, the quality of fighting men is always pivotal.
Hitler probably also thought that as unpopular as Stalin had to be with his soldiers, it was easier to convince them to surrender...but if suddenly Stalin were replaced by a more popular figure, then the Russians would be more determined to fight against the Germans. So Hitler actually preferred to keep Stalin in power, which in hindsight, was a big mistake.
The two are much the same. Just as Midway was the turning point of the war in the Pacific, the German defeat in the second battle of El Alamein was, as Churchill put it, was “ .. perhaps, the end of the beginning” of victory over the Axis powers. More famously, Churchill later wrote: “Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat.”
The two are much the same. Just as Midway was the turning point of the war in the Pacific, the German defeat in the second battle of El Alamein was, as Churchill put it, was “ .. perhaps, the end of the beginning” of victory in Europe over Germany. More famously, Churchill later wrote: “Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat.”
The Germans had FM radios, trained crews and better tactics. That is why they destroyed so many Soviet tanks.
The Japanese had every inking that we had broken their code during the war, but were too racist to believe that Caucasians could do this.
IMHO the allies best general was none other than Adolf Hitler. This is not to diminish our sacrifices or our skill. But all of Hitler's defeats before 1943 were avoidable, and many of his victories were not exploited.
Hitler was right up to the point where he defeated France.
Hitler owned Stalin on the Non-Aggression Pact. Stalin thought there would be a long war in the West, but France fell in six weeks, meaning Hitler could turn his attention towards Russia that much sooner....it was all there for the taking. It would have been very easy to plunge Russia itself into another Civil War and divide and conquer, just as in the First World War. Certainly amongst the generals there was no love lost for Stalin after the Purges, and I think most would have willingly defected, like Vlasov did.
It is always the soldier who is the decisive factor, not the equipment. Bad equipment can encumber a good army, that is true. But good equipment does nothing to improve a bad army.
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.