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Midway - PBY searches and the Flight to Nowhere

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by Carronade, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    .Part of the American strategy at Midway was to rely primarily on PBYs from Midway to detect the Japanese forces, allowing the carriers to concentrate on preparing for attack. This was particularly true for Enterprise and Hornet of TF16. And it worked in that PBYs flown by Lieutenants Chase and Ady spotted the Japanese carrier force approximately 200 miles NW of Midway. So here's my question: presumably they were intended to search out to their normal range of about 700 miles, so what did they do after spotting Kido Butai? I would think they would have worked their way around the Japanese force and continued their assigned searches - does anyone know if they did so? They don't appear to have sent followon reports as they presumably would if they lingered in the vicinity of Nagumo's force.

    This relates to the flight of Hornet's air group. Enterprise's Air Group 16 headed for the estimated position of the Japanese based on the PBY sighting reports, bearing approximately 239 degrees. Hornet's group took a heading of 265, apparently with the intention of searching for additional Japanese carriers (the initial sighting reports had identified only two)..Basically they were searching the area NW of Nagumo, which ought to have been covered by PBYs including Chase and Ady. Was there any reason to suspect that they PBYs had not adequately covered their assigned search area? Was there potentially a "blind spot" or "shadow zone" behind/NW of Kido Butai which justified Hornet's strike (less Torpedo 8) heading there instead of toward the known Japanese position?
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    One thing when you are spotting is not being spotted spotting! Once you have spotted the enemy/Carrier force you should bug out as quietly as possible...
     
  3. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The PBYs, as per their orders, continued to carry out their searches.
     
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  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Thanks for your responses, gentlemen.
     
  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    They wanted to maintain the element of surprise, having the Japanese believe they weren't detected would be, and was huge.
     
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  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I believe that it had more to do with finding all of the Japanese naval forces converging on Midway, than maintaining any figment of not spotting the Japanese carriers. Remember, the Americans were expecting more carriers than had so far been located.
     
  7. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Doctrine at the time was spot, report & shadow. That continued for the VP community, for the most part, but there were some rather aggressive VP drivers out there. VS/VB searchers, by the fall of 1942, were in the spot, report, & attack mode, thus the difference between Sam Adams & Rocky Dickson finding, reporting, and briefly shadowing Hiryu at Midway and Birney Strong & Chuck Irvine searching out (albeit based on an earlier reported sighting), reporting, and then, just the two of them, attacking Zuiho at Santa Cruz. A mission kill, they put her flight deck out off commission with a 50 foot hole in the after portion. Zuiho would not again recover aircraft until shipyard repairs were complete in mid-December 1942.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018

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