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The Battle of Midway

Discussion in 'The War In The Pacific' started by Cabel1960, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

    Nov 4, 2006
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    There are some battles which can be seen as turning the tide, that moment when a path to victory began to open for one side or the other. In the Pacific component of World War II, the winning the Battle of Midway can be seen as that moment for the allied powers, especially the United States.

    The Plan

    The Battle of Midway is significant in that both sides were planning an ambush, except only one side knew it. On one side of the pacific, Japan was looking for a significant victory. It wanted the United States out of the Pacific and out of its business, so that it could have a free hand to do what it wanted. It was hoped that if there could be a second Pearl Harbour, that is, another terrible, demoralizing loss, the people of the United States would effectively give up and focus on the American mainland. The target for this second attack was Midway, an important base in the Pacific. What Japan and its leaders didn’t know was the United States had broken its code. The Americans knew, in advance, both the location of the attack and the date. They even knew what strategy the Japanese commanders were taking and had a rough estimate of the fleet was being divided. This allowed them to basically turn the ambush around, surprising Japan was unanticipated force. Japan was further hindered when a series of events left them without reconnaissance shortly before the attack.


    The Battle

    It was a testament to the initial superiority of the Japanese fleet that even with the ambush in place the Americans took a hard blow. The American “Buffalo” and “Wildcat” fighters struggled against the Japanese “Zero” fighters and suffered many losses in the clash. Midway was hit by Japanese bombers, in some areas badly damaged, but remained functional. The U.S. Navy counter-attacked using planes and carriers Yorktown, Hornet and Enterprise. They succeeded in their attacks against several Japanese carriers, leaving only the Hiryu to continue the battle.

    The Japanese were unaware of how many U.S. carriers were actually present in the battle and, in a last stand, delivered two serious blows; however, both were against the Yorktown, though the Japanese thought they had hit two separate carriers.


    The Outcome

    The battle did not end the war; however, it was a decisive victory. The Japanese navy lost a huge number of both pilots and weaponry. In order to compensate, they rushed the training of replacement pilots, who were not as skilled as the initial force and were easier to defeat. Their weapons industry was also set back several years, giving the United States a chance to train and build its own forces, effectively leveling the playing field and eliminating the Japanese naval advantages.
  2. brianw

    brianw Member

    Sep 6, 2011
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    Midway was a clear victory for US intelligence as well as their naval forces; having cracked the Japanese codes, they knew that an attack on Midway Island was due. They knew the date, the direction from which the attack would come and also the diversionary action in the Aleutian Islands, although some historians now reckon that this was an attack in its own right rather than a diversion from the Midway operation.

    Apart from the prior knowledge of the impending attack, the Americans also had some luck on their side too; the Yorktown, damaged in the Battle of the Coral Sea was able to be hurriedly repaired and sail to join the battle group, and the lucky break of squadron commander McClusky spotting the wake of the Japanese destroyer Arashi as she steamed at full speed to rejoin Nagumo's carrier group. His squadron of dive bombers caught the Japanese carriers completely unprepared while in the process of refuelling and re-arming their aircraft.

    The Yorktown joining the Enterprise and Hornet caused some difficulties for the Japanese since they were under the impression that she was undergoing battle damage repairs in Pearl Harbour and consequently thought that they were facing just two American carriers so they couldn't understand how the Americans were able to put so many aircraft into the battle. It was only later in the battle that they realised that they were actually facing three carriers and by then it was too late.

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