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Battle of Midway Question

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by BigEFan, Jan 1, 2019.

  1. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Don't tell me who won, I'm still reading. #KeepTheSecret
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I love spoilers!

    Chuck Heston won!
     
  3. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    In a sense...He crashed the only jet at Midway.

    However, smearing oneself all over the flight deck, hardly classifies as a "win", unless you are a Kamikaze.

    Ohhh...Heston's character was a Japanese double agent intent on destroying an American carrier! OMG, I never thought of that!
     
  4. green slime

    green slime Member

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  5. BigEFan

    BigEFan recruit

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    That is a fantastic YouTube video of the Japanese view of the Battle of Midway. Thanks for posting that! I found it also and came here to post it, but you beat me to it. Haha.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
  6. BigEFan

    BigEFan recruit

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    The YouTube above "Japanese View of the Battle of Midway left out an important event that saved the US that day. There was a battle between the Japanese destroyer, Arashi, and the US submarine Nautilus. The Arashi attacked the Nautilus, but the battle was a stalemate. After the battle the Arashi steamed full speed towards the northeast to join her group. If the US dive bombers did not notice that, they would probably have not made that critical hard right turn to follow the Arashi, which lead them to the Japanese fleet, and they would have run out of gas and ditched in the ocean because they were not aware the Japanese fleet had changed course northward. If not for that, the Japanese would probably have destroyed all 3 US carriers, taken possession of Midway, and the war in the Pacific would have lasted a year or two longer! Right?
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  7. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I believe that not finding the Japanese fleet where they expected, they determined to go NE in the hope of finding them while also heading back in the general direction of a return to their own carriers for recovery. Finding a destroyer 'booking' it reinforced their decision. Even so another group of dive bombers were closing from another direction, so Japan would likely have lost at least one and possibly two carriers in this attack.
     
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  8. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    No. Not at all

    McClusky was not some nugget fresh out of Pensacola, he knew what he was doing. When he reached the point the air staff thought he should encounter the Japanese, they were not there. He went on for a few more minutes and then made his decision. He had three choices . . . say ‘the hell with it’ and turn back . . . turn to port, roughly to the south, and execute a box search . . . turn to starboard, roughly to the north, and execute a box search. The box search was a standard, doctrinaire, practice for when one could not find what one was looking for; comes in handy in the aircraft carrier business. The extent of the search was based on remaining fuel . . . run the search and still have enough fuel to get back to the ship. McClusky decided that the Japanese would not have continued towards Midway but, rather, would move off to the north, so that was his choice. It was on that first northerly leg of his box search that Arashi was spotted. Had the destroyer not been in evidence, McClusky’s plan was to head north for another 10 minutes or so and then turn 90 degrees to starboard, roughly to the east, the second leg of his box search. If you bother to plot it out it is pretty obvious that on that second leg to the westerly, he would have spotted the Japanese anyway.

    Of course, that blows the serendipity of the near simultaneous arrival over the Japanese with VB-3 from Yorktown, but on the other hand, he’s be approaching from the non-engaged side while the Japanese would be recovering from whatever mischief VB-3 might have perpetrated on their own, with the CAP chasing down low-level, egressing, SBDs and the survivors of VT-3 – which they historically did. And the smoke and uproar from the VB-3 and VT-3 attacks would have been unmistakable on the horizon, so that would have made his task easier.

    In sailing days this would be not unlike having the weather gauge. That is, his approach from a direction where most lookouts were probably not looking, and, remember, even if someone on a ship saw his two squadrons queuing up for their attacks, the Japanese exercised no fighter interception control from their ships other than some long range airbursts from escorts, having the equivalent of the weather gauge meant he could control the action and make the Japanese react to him. Results might have been a little different, but I’d say his odds for a satisfying hit or two, which as we’ve seen is about all it really takes, witness hits on Akagi, were pretty good. While sinking an enemy carrier is nice, a mission-kill will do the trick, we'll never know. Even though doctrine was one squadron attacks one carrier, he may have had time to finesse attacking three carriers with what he had available.

    All the presence of Arashi did was allow him to cut the corner on his box search and save about 15 minutes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
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  9. BigEFan

    BigEFan recruit

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    Thanks for the info. You understand the subject better than I do. Also if McClusky and company from the Enterprise never found the carriers, the squadron from Yorktown could have taken out one or two carriers?

    Why would McClusky turn towards the north to begin his box search, if the Arashi was never sighted? Was it a lucky guess? We now know the Japanese changed course towards the northeast when they discovered the US carriers. Maybe the Japanese would have retreated towards the southwest to get out of range of the US carriers? That would allow them time to rearm and refuel. The Japanese aircraft had a range advantage over the US aircraft.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If you read his post a bit closer I think you will find he answered the question as to why he turned North..
     
  11. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    The whole point of Operation MI was to catch and destroy the U S carriers. Taking Midway would be useful, but would not demoralize or seriously impair a American counter offensive. Only the loss of U S capitol ships might do this, at the very least it might give Japan time to build up its defense perimeter. Tactically it would have been wise to open the distance, recover their strike aircraft and then close in for a alpha strike on the U S forces, but at this point they were gripped in 'victory disease' and did not fully respect the western powers.
     
  12. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    There was no 'victory disease', it was the mistake of planning for what you want your enemy to do(hiding in Pearl Harbor) rather than planning for what you enemy could do(be sitting on your east flank with 3 carriers). Add to that intel reports that there were no US forces within 1500 miles(https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1202&context=nwc-review) Final ingredient of defeat soup, IJN always choose to close rather than retreat.
    the old sailor
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  13. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    McClusky simply put himself in Nagumo’s shoes . . . what direction would he have gone if he were running the Kido Butai . . . “ah, northward!” McClusky also presumed that if the Japanese had continued south, he would have heard about it from reports from patrolling PBYs forwarded from Enterprise. (Yes, it would be worth breaking radio silence . . . far better than Browning’s anguished “Attack” message.) McClusky and the accompanying VB-6 and VS-6 were well into the first leg of his search pattern when Arashi was spotted, something like, “I’ll just keep going this way for about 10 more minutes before turning . . . hey, where’s that guy going in such an all fired hurry?” Two plus two equals four. Again, McClusky was no novice, and though his most recent background was fighters, he had been a naval aviator since 1929, so he’d been around the block a couple of times, including assignments in the VP community.

    McClusky’s own words: ”. . . With the clear visibility it was certain that we hadn't passed them unsighted. Allowing for their maximum advance of 25 knots, I was positive they couldn't be in my left semi-circle, that is, between my position and the island of Midway. Then they must be in the right semi-circle, had changed course easterly or westerly, or, most likely reversed course. To allow for a possible westerly change of course, I decided to fly west for 35 miles, then to turn north-west in the precise reverse of the original Japanese course. After making this decision, my next concern was just how far could we go. We had climbed, heavily loaded, to a high altitude. I knew the planes following were probably using more gas than I was. So, with another quick calculation, I decided to stay on course 315 degrees until 1200, then turn north-eastwardly before making a final decision to terminate the hunt and return to the Enterprise.”

    The 1200 time was Pearl Harbor time, local time would be about 1000.

    On its own, one might presume that VB-5 would have scored at least one hit one on one carrier. They were already operating at a disadvantage because three of the SBD’s, including Max Leslie’s, had lost their payloads due to an electrical malfunction when they went to arm their bombs – though Leslie and the other two executed dives on Soryu with the rest or the troops, regardless. So, 15 SBD’s still carrying bombs should have hit at least once, especially since VT-3 and the VF-3 escort were keeping the CAP fairly occupied. I see no reason why that situation would have been different. And, again, in the carrier world, especially considering IJN damage control of the time, one or two good solid hits are as good as a dozen . . . witness Birney Strong and Chuck Irvine’s scouting section attacking Zuiho at Santa Cruz all by themselves. Knocked a 50-foot hole in the flight deck that ended flight operations and kept Zuiho in the yard until the end of December 1942. A mission kill.

    The Yorktown air staff brain trust (some pretty talented practitioners and thinkers IMO) also presumed the Japanese had turned northward from its closest approach to Midway and made their plan accordingly, thus the YAG strike was able to find the Japanese pretty much where they expected . . . no extraneous searching.

    As for the Japanese pulling off to the southwest instead, well, the above excepted, I don’t do what ifs particularly. I would point out that the HAG SBDs and F4Fs, I believe, wandered off in a west-southwest direction in their flight to nowhere, and went far beyond what might have been prudent from a fuel expenditure standpoint. One never knows, too many factors.

    Do not focus on the rated ranges too much, mostly because what one reads are usually ferry ranges, not combat ranges which are a whole another concept. As with the USN, the typical IJN carrier operators really did not like to engage beyond about 175 miles.

    Oh, and just an amusing jaunt, McClusky’s curriculum vitae as an aviator before becoming CEAG . . .
    1929 – ENS – NAS Pensacola – Flight Training, attach 27 Jun 1928
    1929 -ENS – Naval Aviator # 3473, 7 May 1929
    1929 – ENS – NAS Pensacola – operational training
    1929 – LTJG – NAS Pensacola – operational training (DOR 3 Jun 1929)
    1930 – LTJG - VF-1B – USS Saratoga attach, 1 Jul 1929
    1931 – LTJG – VF-1B – USS Saratoga
    1932 – LTJG – Staff, ComMineBatFor, attach 30 May 1931
    1933 – LTJG – VP-4B NAS Pearl Harbor, attach 16 Jun 1932
    1934 – LTJG – USNA - PG course, general line, attach 14 Jun 1933
    1934 – LTJG – VO-4B USS Maryland, attach 1 Jun 1934
    1935 – LTJG – Staff, ComAirBaseFor, attach 30 Jun 1934
    1936 – LTJG – Staff, ComAirBatFor, attach 30 Jun 1935
    1936 – LT – Staff, ComAirBatFor, (DOR 30 Jun 1936)
    1937 – LT – Staff, ComAirBatFor
    1938 – LT – USNA instruction staff, attach 7 Mar 1938
    1939 – LT – USNA instruction staff
    1940 – LT – VF-6 USS Enterprise, attach 8 Jun 1940
    1940 – LCDR – VF-6 USS Enterprise (DOR 1 Jul 1940)
    1941 – LCDR – VF-6 USS Enterprise (CO, Apr 1941)
    1942 – LCDR – EAG (CEAG) attach 31 Mar 1942

    McClusky served on various aviation command and staff positions until retirement in July 1956; at that time, he received a retirement advancement to the rank of Rear Admiral on the basis of combat commendations/decorations under USC 1952, 25, 410n.
     
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  14. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    not to nitpick but you didn't list where CDR. McClusky went after Enterprise. From Aug 42 to Aug 44, he was attached to various air related staffs then returned as the CO of CVE-58. Lt. Kliess of VS-6, left Enterprise 7/42 and was a diving bombing training squadron instructor and CO for 18 months before going to post grad studies. Most of the rest of US survivors had similar experiences. My point is that the US had enough pilots that veterans were rotated home to teach the next batch of replacements or help re-write the "BooK" based on what they had experienced. Their counter parts in the IJN went to other carriers or South Pacific shore stations and most were lost in the next year.
    scott
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  15. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    "McClusky served on various aviation command and staff positions until retirement in July 1956" covers after Midway and Enterprise. Could I list them out, 1942 to 1956? Probably, but I did not feel like it in the original post and I don't feel like it now.

    Trust me, I have a pretty good handle on what a lot of people, including Dusty Kleiss - one of my father's USNA classmates (1938), and whom I knew, did after Midway. My father, for example, got 30 days survivors leave and arrived in Norfolk on 4 July 1942 with the VF-42 contingent from Yorktown. Then on to VF-11 at San Diego and an eventual tour in the Solomons in mid 1943, then VF training director at ComFAirWest, then Asst Ops Officer on TF-38 - working for Jimmie Thach, again, then the war ended whilst cruising off the coast of Japan in that duty. Could list a whole lot more, but since this is a WW2 forum, I'll just say there were more aviation duties and commands and other staff jobs and sea commands ending with retiring, w/out a need for the aforementioned USC 1952, 25, 410n which ran out in 1959 anyway, a rear admiral in 1971.

    And, "the Book"? Jimmy Flatley, as director of training at ComFAirWest, before going back out west as Ops Officer for TF-58, was directed to re-write the USF-74 carrier air operations fleet instructions . . . he and my father specifically worked on the VF section. I have their final rough draft in both of their handwriting and original diagrams.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019

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