CHRONICLES OF OUR GENERATION

CHRONICLES OF OUR GENERATION

Monday, August 26, 2013

Battle of Midway

 

 

 

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BATTLE OF MIDWAY

 

Seventy years ago and six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan prepared to deal one more decisive blow to the U.S. Naval forces in the Pacific. Its aim was to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers and occupy Midway Atoll -- a tiny but strategically important island nearly halfway between Asia and North America, that was home to a U.S. Naval air station. American codebreakers deciphered the Japanese plans, allowing the U.S. Navy to plan an ambush. On June 3, 1942, the Battle of Midway commenced. Aircraft launched from Midway Atoll and from carriers of both navies and flew hundreds of miles, dropping torpedoes and bombs and fighting one another in the skies. At the end of several days of fighting, the Japanese Navy had lost four aircraft carriers and nearly 250 aircraft and suffered more than 3,000 deaths. In contrast, U.S. losses amounted to a single carrier and 307 deaths. It was a decisive victory for the U.S. Navy, and was later regarded as the most important battle of the Pacific Campaign. But at the same time as this battle was taking place, a Japanese aircraft carrier strike force thousands of miles to the north was attacking the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. After bombing Dutch Harbor, Japanese forces siezed the tiny islands of Attu and Kiska. It was the first time since the War of 1812 that American soil had been occupied by an enemy. The Japanese dug in and held the islands until mid-1943, when American and Canadian forces recaptured them in brutal invasions.

The U.S. Navy had fought two vital actions  -  the Coral Sea in May and Midway in June  -  to cripple the advance of the Japanese fleet.

Soon afterwards the Japanese landed a force to build an airstrip on the island of Guadalcanal. The Americans set about frustrating their purpose, by rushing ashore 19,000 men of 1st Marine Division, in the first big commitment of their war.

The initial landing was almost unopposed. But through the weeks that followed, the two sides raced to build up forces.

Again and again, the Japanese hurled themselves at the Marine perimeter. The U.S. fleet offshore was so badly battered by Japanese warships, losing four cruisers in a single night, that for a time the men ashore were left to fend for themselves.

For five months, the Marines clung on in appalling conditions, slowly forcing their way across the island. By the year's end, Guadalcanal was secure. The survivors withdrew, having suffered 6,000 casualties.

The scripts in the series have been adapted from combatants memoirs
World War II, June 1942

Only 1,000 miles northwest of Hawaii, Midway atoll was an important strategic objective for the Japanese Navy. Four large Japanese aircraft carriers, under the command of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, steamed across the ocean, their crews itching to get their planes into the air. With the largest fleet in the Pacific Ocean, their confidence ran high. A victory at Midway would prove their superiority in the Pacific. Little did they know that the United States had cracked Japanese message codes, which allowed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, to set up an ambush.

Midway Atoll

The opening blow

On June 4, 1942, at 4:30 in the morning, 108 aircraft from the Japanese fleet were launched to blast Midway. The Japanese had sent out search planes as a matter of procedure, but the Americans were sending out search planes specifically to locate their position. One of the American search planes spotted the Japanese carrier strike force and reported back to base at about 6:30 a.m. At the same time, a seaplane pilot reported the incoming Japanese planes. With news of the approach, navy, marine, and army planes headed off to attack the Japanese fleet.

The fliers found themselves in a dog fight with many advanced Zero Japanese fighters. The enemy managed to shoot down a few of the U.S. aircraft, but the Japanese sustained most of the damage. When the Japanese planes broke off the dog fight, the United States knew something was about to happen.

The Japanese sent more planes and they hit Midway at 6:30 a.m., where they dropped their bombs on the two inhabited islands. The assault went on for 20 minutes, but the only damage done was to a few buildings that had caught on fire. The Japanese were frustrated by the lack of success and radioed back to the ships that another strike was required to adequately soften up Midway's defenses for an invasion.

The U.S. strikes back

After the attack on Midway, Rear Admiral Frank J. Fletcher ordered the aircraft from the Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown to make several counterstrikes against the Japanese. Even with the massive force from the U.S. against the Japanese, it was an uncoordinated attack that rendered their efforts useless.

Shortly after 7 a.m., six U.S. Navy TBF-1s made a series of attacks but were unable to score any hits. Of the six planes, the aircraft flown by Ensign Albert K. Earnest was the only one to survive the attack. He earned two Navy Crosses for his action. One was for his determined attack and the other was for bringing the TBF home so it could be evaluated after its first combat appearance.

Fighters prepared for takeoff from the Enterprise

The next attack came from three squadrons of SBD scout bombers, two of which were from the Enterprise and one from the Yorktown. The planes dove almost simultaneously down to three of the four Japanese carriers. The carriers' decks were covered with fully armed and fueled planes readying for takeoff. That made the attack very successful and in only a few minutes, the Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu were on fire and out of the action. The only ship that remained operational was the Hiryu.

Hiryu's counterattacks

The Japanese were outraged by the damage the United States had inflicted upon their ships, and sent the aircraft from the Hiryu to attack the Yorktown. Even with heavy antiaircraft fire thrown up by the Yorktown, the Japanese managed to stop the ship dead in the water with three bombs. The crew worked hard to repair the damaged ship, but the Japanese fliers managed to penetrate the heavy air and gunfire opposition again and hit the Yorktown with two torpedoes, opening a huge hole amidships on the port side. The Yorktown was out of power, useless to the fleet. The skipper then realized that the Japanese would want to sink it, and ordered his crew to abandon ship to prevent more loss of life.

A Japanese submarine then conducted several surfacings to check their distance from the Yorktown. As it got closer and closer, the United States fleet closed in to destroy the sub before it could destroy the Yorktown. However, the submarine managed to torpedo the Yorktown, completely scuttling it.

Soon after, United States carrier planes found the Hiryu and staged a major attack against the carrier. That final attack crippled Japanese naval air power. The enemy suffered four lost carriers and the majority of its air fleet. The loss of the carriers chastened the morale of the Japanese people, and it was decided that the carriers would not be replaced.

The battle was a decisive victory for the United States that ended the Japan threat to the Hawaiian Islands and the United States mainland. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were basically on a par, and the United States quickly seized the offensive.

 

An SBD-3 dive bomber of Bombing Squadron Six, on the deck of USS Yorktown. The aircraft was flown by Ensign G.H. Goldsmith and ARM3c J. W. Patterson, Jr., during the June 4, 1942 strike against the Japanese carrier Akagi. Note the battle damage on the tail. (U.S. Navy)

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Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in late May 1942, being readied for the Battle of Midway. (U.S. Navy) #

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TBD-1 torpedo bombers of Torpedo Squadron Six unfold their wings on the deck of USS Enterprise prior to launching an attack against four Japanese carriers on the first day of the Battle of Midway. Launched on the morning of June 4, 1942, against the Japanese carrier fleet during the Battle of Midway, the squadron lost ten of fourteen aircraft during their attack. (U.S. Navy) #

 

View showing the stern quarter of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the Pacific in 1942. (U.S. Navy)

Typical of Japanese naval planning during World War II, Yamamoto's battle plan was exceedingly complex.[21] Additionally, his design was predicated on optimistic intelligence suggesting USS Enterprise and USS Hornet, forming Task Force 16, were the only carriers available to the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time. At the Battle of the Coral Sea just a month earlier, USS Lexington had been sunk and USS Yorktown damaged severely enough that the Japanese believed her also to have been sunk. The Japanese were also aware that USS Saratoga was undergoing repairs on the West Coast after suffering torpedo damage from a submarine.

However, more important was Yamamoto's belief the Americans had been demoralized by their frequent defeats during the preceding six months. Yamamoto felt deception would be required to lure the U.S. fleet into a fatally compromised situation.[22] To this end, he dispersed his forces so that their full extent (particularly his battleships) would be unlikely to be discovered by the Americans prior to battle. Critically, Yamamoto's supporting battleships and cruisers would trail Vice-Admiral Nagumo Chūichi's carrier striking force by several hundred miles. Japan's heavy surface forces were intended to destroy whatever part of the U.S. fleet might come to Midway's relief, once Nagumo's carriers had weakened them sufficiently for a daylight gun duel;[23] this was typical of the battle doctrine of most major navies.[24]

Yamamoto did not know that the U.S. had broken the main Japanese naval code (dubbed JN-25 by the Americans). Yamamoto's emphasis on dispersal also meant that none of his formations could support each other. For instance, the only significant warships larger than destroyers that screened Nagumo's fleet were two battleships and three cruisers, despite his carriers being expected to carry out the strikes and bear the brunt of American counterattacks. By contrast, the flotillas of Yamamoto and Kondo had between them two light carriers, five battleships, and six cruisers, none of which would see any action at Midway.[23] Their distance from Nagumo's carriers would also have grave implications during the battle, because the larger warships in Yamamoto and Kondo's forces carried scout planes, an invaluable reconnaissance capability denied to Nagumo.

Likewise, the Japanese operations in the Aleutian Islands (Operation AL) removed yet more ships that could otherwise have augmented the force striking Midway. Whereas prior historical accounts have often characterized the Aleutians operation as a feint to draw American forces away, recent scholarship on the battle has suggested that AL was supposed to be launched simultaneously with the attack on Midway.[24] However, a one-day delay in the sailing of Nagumo's task force meant that Operation AL began a day before the Midway attack.[

34

As an NYA (National Youth Administration) trainee working inside the nose of a PBY, Elmer J. Pace is learning the construction of Navy planes, at Corpus Christi Naval Air Base, in Texas, in August of 1942. (Howard Hollem/OWI/LOC) #

35

The water stretching machine of an eastern parachute manufacturer stretches shroud lines so as to make them more adaptable to the finished product, in Manchester, Connecticut, in July of 1942. (William Rittase/OWI/LOC) #

36

After seven years in the Navy, J.D. Estes is considered an old sea salt by his mates at the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas, in August of 1942. (Howard Hollem/OWI/LOC) #

5

A Grumman F4F-4 "Wildcat" fighter takes off from USS Yorktown on combat air patrol, on the morning of 4 June 1942. This plane is Number 13 of Fighting Squadron Three, flown by the squadron Executive Officer, Lt(jg) William N. Leonard. Note .50 caliber machine gun at right and mattresses hung on the lifeline for splinter-protection. (Photographer Second Class William G. Roy/U.S. Navy) #

6

The Japanese carrier Hiryu maneuvers to avoid bombs dropped by Army Air Forces B-17 Flying Fortresses during the Battle of Midway, on June 4, 1942. (NARA) #

7

U.S. Navy LCdr Maxwell F. Leslie, commanding officer of bombing squadron VB-3, ditches in the ocean next to the heavy cruiser USS Astoria, after successfully attacking the Japanese carrier Soryu during the Battle of Midway, on June 4, 1942. Leslie and his wingman Lt(jg) P.A. Holmberg ditched near Astoria due to fuel exhaustion, after their parent carrier USS Yorktown was under attack by Japanese planes when they returned. Leslie, Holmberg, and their gunners were rescued by one of the cruiser's whaleboats. Note one of the cruiser's Curtiss SOC Seagull floatplanes on the catapult at right. (U.S. Navy) #

Black smoke rises from a burning U.S. oil tank, set afire during a Japanese air raid on Naval Air Station Midway on Midway Atoll, on June 4, 1942. American forces maintained an airstrip with dozens of aircraft stationed on the tiny island. The attack inflicted heavy damage, but the airstrip was still usable. (AP Photo)

To do battle with an enemy anticipated to muster four or five carriers, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, needed every available U.S. flight deck. He already had Vice Admiral William Halsey's two-carrier (Enterprise and Hornet) task force at hand, though Halsey was stricken with psoriasis and had to be replaced by Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Halsey's escort commander.[28] Nimitz also hurriedly recalled Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher's task force, including the carrier Yorktown (which had suffered considerable damage at Coral Sea), from the South West Pacific Area. It reached Pearl Harbor just in time to provision and sail.

Despite estimates that Yorktown would require several months of repairs at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, her elevators were intact, and her flight deck largely so.[29] The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard worked around the clock and in 72 hours, she was restored to a battle-ready state,[30] judged good enough for two or three weeks of operations, as Nimitz required.[31] Her flight deck was patched, whole sections of internal frames cut out and replaced, and several new squadrons were drawn from Saratoga; they did not, however, get time to train.[32] Nimitz disregarded established procedure in getting his third and last available carrier ready for battle. Just three days after putting into dry dock at Pearl Harbor, Yorktown was again under way. Repairs continued even as she sortied, with work crews from the repair ship USS Vestal, herself damaged in the attack on Pearl Harbor six months earlier, still aboard.[33]

On Midway, by 4 June the USN had stationed four squadrons of PBY Catalinas — 31 aircraft in total — for long-range reconnaissance duties, and six brand-new Grumman TBF-1 Avengers, the latter a detachment from Hornet's squadron VT-8.[34] The Marine Corps had 19 SBD Dauntlesses, seven F4F-3 Wildcats, 17 Vought SB2U-3 Vindicators, and 21 Brewster F2A-3s. The USAAF contributed a squadron of 17 B-17 Flying Fortresses, along with eight B-26 Marauders equipped with torpedoes: in total 124 aircraft.[35]

Akagi, the flagship of the Japanese carrier striking force which attacked Pearl Harbor, as well as Darwin, Rabaul, and Colombo, in April 1942 prior to the battle.

Meanwhile, as a result of her participation in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese carrier Zuikaku was in port in Kure, awaiting a replacement air group. That there were none immediately available was a failure of the IJN crew training program, which already showed signs of being unable to replace losses.[36] Instructors from the Yokosuka Air Corps were employed in an effort to make up the shortfall.[36] The heavily damaged Shōkaku had suffered three bomb hits at Coral Sea, and required months of repair in drydock. Despite the likely availability of sufficient aircraft between the two ships to re-equip Zuikaku with a composite air group, the Japanese made no serious attempt to get her into the forthcoming battle.[37] Consequently, Admiral Nagumo would only have four fleet carriers: Kaga and Akagi forming Carrier Division 1; Hiryū and Sōryū as Carrier Division 2. At least part of this was a product of fatigue; Japanese carriers had been constantly on operations since 7 December 1941, including raids on Darwin and Colombo.

The main Japanese strike aircraft to be used were the Aichi D3A dive bomber and the Nakajima B5N2, which was capable of being used either as a torpedo bomber or as a level attack bomber. The main carrier fighter was the fast and highly maneuverable Mitsubishi A6M2 "Zero".[nb 3] However, the carriers of the Kido Butai were suffering from a shortage of frontline aircraft. For various reasons, production of the D3A had been drastically reduced, while that of the B5N had been stopped completely.[38] As a consequence, there were none available to replace losses. This also meant that many of the aircraft being used during the June 1942 operations had been operational since late November 1941; although well maintained, they were almost worn out and had become increasingly unreliable. These factors meant that all carriers had fewer than their normal aircraft complement and few spare aircraft.[39]

Japanese strategic scouting arrangements prior to the battle were also in disarray. A picket line of Japanese submarines was late getting into position (partly because of Yamamoto's haste), which let the American carriers reach their assembly point northeast of Midway (known as "Point Luck") without being detected.[40] A second attempt at reconnaissance, using four-engine Kawanishi H8K flying boats to scout Pearl Harbor prior to the battle (and thereby detect the absence or presence of the American carriers), part of Operation K, was also thwarted when Japanese submarines assigned to refuel the search aircraft discovered that the intended refueling point — a hitherto deserted bay off French Frigate Shoals — was occupied by American warships (because the Japanese had carried out an identical mission in March).[41] Thus, Japan was deprived of any knowledge concerning the movements of the American carriers immediately before the battle.

Japanese radio intercepts did notice an increase in both American submarine activity and message traffic. This information was in Yamamoto's hands prior to the battle. However, Japanese plans were not changed; Yamamoto, at sea on Yamato, did not dare inform Nagumo for fear of exposing his position and assumed that Nagumo had received the same signal from Tokyo.[42] Nagumo's radio antennas, however, were unable to receive such long-wave transmissions, and he was left unaware of any American ship movements.[43]

 

Admiral Nimitz had one priceless asset: cryptanalysts had broken the JN-25 code.[44] Since the early spring of 1942, the US had been decoding messages stating that there would soon be an operation at objective "AF." Commander Joseph J. Rochefort and his team at Station Hypo were able to confirm Midway as the target of the impending Japanese strike by having the base at Midway send a false message stating that its water distillation plant had been damaged and that the base needed fresh water. The Japanese saw this and soon started to send messages stating that "AF was short on water."[45] Hypo was also able to determine the date of the attack as either 4 or 5 June, and to provide Nimitz with a complete IJN order of battle.[46] Japan's efforts to introduce a new codebook had been delayed, giving HYPO several crucial days; while it was blacked out shortly before the attack began, the important breaks had already been made.[47][nb 4]

As a result, the Americans entered the battle with a very good picture of where, when, and in what strength the Japanese would appear. Nimitz, for example, knew that the Japanese had negated their numerical advantage by dividing their ships into four separate task groups, all too widely separated to be able to support each other.[48] [nb 5] Nimitz calculated that the aircraft on his three carriers, plus those on Midway Island, gave the U.S. rough parity with Yamamoto's four carriers, mainly because American carrier air groups were larger than Japanese ones. The Japanese, by contrast, remained almost totally unaware of their opponent's true strength and dispositions even after the battle began.[26]

The first air attack took off at 12:30 on 3 June, consisting of nine B-17s operating from Midway. Three hours later, they found the Japanese transport group 570 nmi (660 mi; 1,060 km) to the west.[49] Under heavy anti-aircraft fire, they dropped their bombs. Though hits were reported,[49] none of the bombs actually hit and no significant damage was inflicted.[50] Early the following morning, Japanese oil tanker Akebono Maru sustained the first hit when a torpedo from an attacking PBY Catalina flying boat struck her around 01:00. This would be the only successful air launched torpedo attack by the U.S. during the entire battle.[50]

 

Eastern Island under attack.

At 04:30 on 4 June, Nagumo launched his initial attack on Midway itself, consisting of 36 Aichi D3A dive bombers and 36 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers, escorted by 36 Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters. At the same time, he launched combat air patrol (CAP), as well as his eight search aircraft (one from the heavy cruiser Tone launched 30 minutes late due to technical difficulties).

Japanese reconnaissance arrangements were flimsy, with too few aircraft to adequately cover the assigned search areas, laboring under poor weather conditions to the northeast and east of the task force.[51] Yamamoto's faulty dispositions had now become a serious liability.[52]

American radar picked up the enemy at a distance of several miles and interceptors were soon scrambled. Unescorted bombers headed off to attack the Japanese carrier fleet, their fighter escorts remaining behind to defend Midway. At 06:20, Japanese carrier aircraft bombed and heavily damaged the U.S. base. Midway-based Marine fighter pilots, flying F4F Wildcats and obsolescent F2As,[53] intercepted the Japanese and suffered heavy losses, though they managed to destroy four D3As and at least three A6Ms. Most of the U.S. planes were downed in the first few minutes; several were damaged, and only two remained flyable. In all, three F4Fs and 13 F2As were shot down. American anti-aircraft fire was accurate and intense, damaging many Japanese aircraft and claiming one-third of the Japanese planes destroyed.[54]

The initial Japanese attack did not succeed in neutralizing Midway. American bombers could still use the airbase to refuel and attack the Japanese invasion force; another aerial attack would be necessary if troops were to go ashore by 7 June.[55]

Having taken off prior to the Japanese attack, American bombers based on Midway made several attacks on the Japanese carrier fleet. These included six Grumman Avengers, detached to Midway from the Hornet's VT-8 (Midway was the first combat mission for the VT-8 airmen, and it was the debut of the TBF into combat), Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron 241 (VMSB-241), consisting of eleven SB2U-3s and sixteen SBDs, plus four USAAF B-26s, armed with torpedoes, and fifteen B-17s. The Japanese shrugged off these attacks with two fighters lost, while destroying five TBFs, two SB2Us, eight SBDs and two B-26s.[56][57] The first Marine aviator to perish during the battle, Major Lofton R. Henderson of VMSB-241, was killed while leading his inexperienced Dauntless squadron into action and was later honored by having the main airfield at Guadalcanal named after him in August 1942.[58] One B-26, hit by anti-aircraft fire from Akagi, made no attempt to pull out of its run and narrowly missed crashing directly into the carrier's bridge. This experience may well have contributed to Nagumo's determination to launch another attack on Midway, in direct violation of Yamamoto's order to keep the reserve strike force armed for anti-ship operations.

The battle has often been called "the turning point of the Pacific".[124] However, the Japanese continued to try to advance in the South Pacific, and it was many more months before the U.S. moved from a state of naval parity to one of increasingly clear supremacy.[125] Thus, although Midway was the Allies' first major victory against the Japanese, it did not change the course of the war in the same sense as Salamis; instead, it was the cumulative attrition of Midway, combined with that of the inconclusive Coral Sea battle, which reduced Japan's ability to undertake major offensives.[8] Midway also paved the way for the landings on Guadalcanal and the prolonged attrition of the Solomon Islands campaign, which allowed the Allies to take the strategic initiative and swing to the offensive for the rest of the Pacific War.[126]

The battle showed the worth of pre-war naval cryptologic training and efforts. These efforts continued and were expanded throughout the war in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. Successes were numerous and significant. For instance, the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto's airplane was possible only because of navy cryptanalysis.

Some authors have stated heavy losses in carriers and veteran aircrews at Midway permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy.[127] Parshall and Tully, however, have stated that the losses in veteran aircrew, while heavy (110, just under 25% of the aircrew embarked on the four carriers),[128] were not crippling to the Japanese naval air-corps as a whole: the Japanese navy had some 2,000 carrier-qualified aircrew at the start of the Pacific war.[129] A few months after Midway, the JNAF sustained similar casualty rates at both the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and Battle of Santa Cruz, and it was these battles, combined with the constant attrition of veterans during the Solomons campaign, which were the catalyst for the sharp downward spiral in operational capability.[130] However, the loss of four large fleet carriers, and over 40% of the carriers' highly trained aircraft mechanics and technicians, plus the essential flight-deck crews and armorers, and the loss of organizational knowledge embodied by such highly trained crew, were heavy blows to the Japanese carrier fleet.[130][nb 10] The loss of the carriers meant that only Shōkaku and Zuikaku were left for offensive actions. Of Japan's other carriers, Taihō was the only Fleet carrier worth teaming with Shōkaku and Zuikaku, while Ryūjō, Junyo, and Hiyō, were second-rate ships of comparatively limited effectiveness.[131] By the time of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, while the Japanese had somewhat rebuilt their carrier forces, the planes were largely flown by inexperienced pilots so the carrier fleet was not as potent a striking force as it was before Midway. [nb 11]

In the time it took Japan to build three carriers, the U.S. Navy commissioned more than two dozen fleet and light fleet carriers, and numerous escort carriers.[132] By 1942, the United States was already three years into a shipbuilding program, mandated by the Second Vinson Act, intended to make the navy larger than Japan's.[133] The greater part of USN aviators survived the Battle of Midway and subsequent battles of 1942, and combined with growing pilot training programs, the US was able to develop a large number of skilled pilots to complement its material advantages in ships and planes.

[edit] Discovery of sunken vessels

Mikuma shortly before sinking

Because of the extreme depth of the ocean in the area of the battle (more than 17,000 ft (5,200 m)), researching the battlefield has presented extraordinary difficulties. However, on 19 May 1998, Robert Ballard and a team of scientists and Midway veterans from both sides located and photographed (artist's rendering) Yorktown. The ship was remarkably intact for a vessel that sank in 1942; much of the original equipment and even the original paint scheme were still visible.[134]

Ballard's subsequent search for the Japanese carriers was ultimately unsuccessful. In September 1999, a joint expedition between Nauticos Corp. and the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office searched for the Japanese aircraft carriers. Using advanced renavigation techniques in conjunction with the ship's log of the submarine USS Nautilus, the expedition located a large piece of wreckage, subsequently identified as having come from the upper hangar deck of Kaga.[135] The main wreck, however, has yet to be located.

[edit] Remembrances

Midway Memorial with Laysan albatross in background.

Chicago Municipal Airport, important to the war efforts in World War II, was renamed Chicago Midway International Airport (or simply Midway Airport) in 1949 in honor of the battle.

Waldron Field, an outlying training landing strip, at Corpus Christi NAS as well Waldron Road leading to the strip, was named in honor of the commander of USS Hornet's Torpedo Squadron 8. Yorktown Blvd leading away from the strip was named for the U.S. carrier sunk in the battle.

An escort carrier, USS Midway (CVE-63) was commissioned on 17 August 1943. She was renamed St. Lo on 10 October 1944 to clear the name Midway for a large fleet aircraft carrier, USS Midway (CV-41), commissioned on 10 September 1945 (eight days after the Japanese surrender). The latter ship is now docked in San Diego, California and is in use as the USS Midway Museum.

On September 13, 2000, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt designated the lands and waters of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge as the Battle of Midway National Memorial.

14

Tank driver, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, June 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

15

M-3 tanks, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, photographed in June of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

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Tank crew standing in front of M-4 tank, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, June, 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

17

With a woman's determination, Lorena Craig takes over a man-size job in Corpus Christi, Texas. Before she came to work at the Naval air base she was a department store girl. Now she is a cowler under civil service. Photographed in August of 1942. (Howard Hollem/OWI/LOC) #

18

A view of the B-25 final assembly line at North American Aviation's Inglewood, California, plant. Photo published in 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC)#

19

Part of the cowling for one of the motors for a B-25 bomber is assembled in the engine department of North American Aviation's Inglewood, California, plant, in October of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

20

Cowling and control rods are added to motors for North American B-25 bombers as they move down the assembly line at North American Aviation, in Inglewood, California, in October of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

21

An experimental scale model of the B-25 plane is prepared for wind tunnel tests in the plant of the North American Aviation, Inc., Inglewood, California. The model maker holds an exact miniature reproduction of the type of bomb the plane will carry. Photo from October, 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

22

P-51 "Mustang" fighter plane in construction, at North American Aviation, Inc., in Los Angeles, California. Photo likely taken sometime in 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

23

An employee in the drill-press section of North American's huge machine shop runs mounting holes in a large dural casting, in Inglewood, California, in October of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

24

B-25 bomber planes at the North American Aviation, Inc., being hauled along an outdoor assembly line with an "International" tractor, in Kansas City, Kansas, in October, 1942. (LOC) #

25

Annette del Sur publicizes a salvage campaign in yard of Douglas Aircraft Company, in Long Beach, California, in October of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

26

Casting a billet from an electric furnace, at Chase Brass and Copper Co., Euclid, Ohio. Modern electric furnaces have helped considerably in speeding the production of brass and other copper alloys for national defense. Here the molten metal is poured or cast from the tilted furnace into a mold to form a billet. The billet later is worked into rods, tubes, wires or special shapes for a variety of uses. Photographed in February, 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

27

U.S. Marine Corps, bedding down a big barrage balloon, in Parris Island, South Carolina, in May, 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

28

A welder making boilers for a ship, at Combustion Engineering Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee, in June of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

29

A young soldier of the armored forces holds and sights his Garand rifle like an old timer, at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He likes the piece for its fine firing qualities and its rugged, dependable mechanism. Photographed in June of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

8

9

A VB-8 SBD lands far off center, flying right over the head of the Landing Signal Officer aboard USS Hornet during the Battle of Midway, on June 4, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

10

Japanese Type 97 shipboard attack aircraft from the carrier Hiryu amid heavy anti-aircraft fire, during the torpedo attack on USS Yorktown in the mid-afternoon of June 4, 1942. At least three planes are visible, the nearest having already dropped its torpedo. The other two are lower and closer to the center, apparently withdrawing. Smoke on the horizon in right center is from a crashed plane. (U.S. Navy) #

11

Smoke rises from the USS Yorktown after a Japanese bomber hit the aircraft carrier in the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. Bursts from anti-aircraft fire fill the air. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #

12

Scene on board USS Yorktown, shortly after she was hit by three Japanese bombs on June 4, 1942. The dense smoke is from fires in her uptakes, caused by a bomb that punctured them and knocked out her boilers. Panorama made from two photographs taken by Photographer 2rd Class William G. Roy from the starboard side of the flight deck, just in front of the forward 5"/38 gun gallery. Man with hammer at right is probably covering a bomb entry hole in the forward elevator. (U.S. Navy) #

13

Black smoke pours from the aircraft carrier Yorktown after she suffered hits from Japanese aircraft during the Battle of Midway, on June 4, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

14

A Japanese Type 97 attack aircraft is shot down while attempting to carry out a torpedo attack on USS Yorktown, during the mid-afternoon of 4 June 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

15

Navy fighters during the attack on the Japanese fleet off Midway, in June of 1942. At center a burning Japanese ship is visible. (NARA) #

16

The Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu maneuvers to avoid bombs dropped by Army Air Forces B-17 Flying Fortresses during the Battle of Midway, on June 4, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

17

The heavily damaged, burning Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu, photographed by a plane from the carrier Hosho shortly after sunrise on June 5, 1942. Hiryu sank a few hours later. Note collapsed flight deck over the forward hangar. (U.S. Navy)

Late in the afternoon, a Yorktown scout aircraft located Hiryū, prompting Enterprise to launch a final strike of dive bombers (including 10 SBDs from Yorktown). Despite Hiryū being defended by a strong cover of more than a dozen Zero fighters, the attack by Enterprise was successful: four, possibly five bombs hit Hiryū, leaving the carrier ablaze and unable to operate aircraft. (Hornet's strike, launched late because of a communications error, concentrated on the remaining escort ships, but failed to score any hits.) After futile attempts at controlling the blaze, most of the remaining crew on Hiryū were evacuated and the remainder of the fleet continued sailing north-east in an attempt to intercept the American carriers. Hiryū stayed afloat for several more hours, being discovered early the next morning by an aircraft from the carrier Hōshō, prompting hopes that the Hiryu could be saved and perhaps even towed back to Japan. However, soon after being spotted, Hiryū sank. Rear Admiral Yamaguchi chose to go down with his ship, costing Japan perhaps her best carrier commander.

Hiryū, shortly before sinking: this photo was taken by Special Service Ensign Kiyoshi Ōniwa from a Yokosuka B4Y off the carrier Hōshō.[96]

As darkness fell, both sides took stock and made tentative plans for continuing the action. Admiral Fletcher, obliged to abandon the derelict Yorktown and feeling he could not adequately command from a cruiser, ceded operational command to Spruance. Spruance knew the United States had won a great victory, but was still unsure of what Japanese forces remained and was determined to safeguard both Midway and his carriers. To aid his aviators, who had launched at extreme range, he had continued to close with Nagumo during the day, and persisted as night fell. This late afternoon strike narrowly missed detecting Yamamoto's main body and failed to score hits on a straggling Japanese destroyer. The strike planes returned to the carriers after nightfall, prompting Spruance to order Enterprise and Hornet to turn on their lights to aid the landings.[97][nb 7] Finally, fearing a possible night encounter with Japanese surface forces,[98] Spruance changed course and withdrew to the east, turning back west towards the enemy at midnight.[99] For his part, Yamamoto initially decided to continue the engagement and sent his remaining surface forces searching eastward for the American carriers. Simultaneously, a cruiser raiding force was detached to bombard the island. The Japanese surface forces failed to make contact with the Americans due to Spruance's decision to briefly withdraw eastward, and Yamamoto ordered a general retirement to the west.[100] [nb 8]

At 02:15 on the night of 5/6 June, Commander John Murphy's Tambor, lying some 90 nmi (100 mi; 170 km) west of Midway, made the second of the Submarine Force's two major contributions to the battle's outcome. Sighting several ships, neither Murphy or his exec, Ray Spruance, Jr., could identify them and, fearing they might be friendly, Murphy held fire. He did, however, report the ships to Admiral Robert English, Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC), but neglected to confirm their course. This report was passed on by English to Nimitz, who then sent it to Spruance. Unaware of the exact location of Yamamoto's "Main Body" (a persistent problem since PBYs had first sighted the Japanese), Spruance assumed this sighting was of the invasion force and moved to block it while staying some 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) northeast of Midway.[102]

The ships sighted by Tambor were the four cruisers and two destroyers Yamamoto had sent to bombard Midway. At 02:55, these ships received Yamamoto's order to retire and changed course to comply.[102] At about the same time as the course change, Tambor was sighted and, during maneuvers designed to avoid a submarine attack, Mogami and Mikuma collided, inflicting serious damage to Mogami's bow: although the less severely damaged Mikuma slowed to 12 knots to keep pace with Mogami.[103] This was the most damage any of the 18[104] submarines deployed for the battle achieved. Only at 04:12 did the sky brighten enough for Murphy to be certain the ships were Japanese, by which time staying surfaced was a hazard, and he dived to approach for an attack. This was unsuccessful, and at around 06:00, he finally reported two westbound Mogami-class cruisers.[105]

Over the following two days, first Midway and then Spruance's carriers launched several strikes against the stragglers. Mikuma was eventually sunk by Dauntlesses,[106] while Mogami survived further severe damage to return home for repairs. The destroyers Arashio and Asashio were also bombed and strafed during the last of these attacks.[107] Captain Richard E. Fleming, a U.S. Marine Corps aviator, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his attack on Mikuma.[108]

Meanwhile, salvage efforts on Yorktown were encouraging, and she was taken in tow by USS Vireo. In the late afternoon of 6 June, however, Yorktown was struck by two torpedoes from I-168. There were few casualties, since most of the crew had already been evacuated, but a third torpedo from this salvo struck and sank the destroyer USS Hammann, which had been providing auxiliary power to Yorktown. Hammann broke in two with the loss of 80 lives, most due to her own depth charges exploding. Yorktown lingered until just after 05:00 on 7 June

 

 

8

Answering the nation's need for womanpower, Mrs. Virginia Davis made arrangement for the care of her two children during the day and joined her husband at work in the Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, Texas. Both are employed under Civil Service in the Assembly and repair department. Mrs. Davis' training will enable her to take the place of her husband should he be called by the armed service. Photo taken in August, 1942. (Howard Hollem/OWI/LOC) #

9

Formerly an aircraft dock, this huge building -- thought to be the largest in the world with no interior supports -- is now the scene of many busy shops turning out aircraft sub-assembly parts, at the Goodyear Aircraft Corp., in Akron, Ohio. Either new housing close to the plant or vastly improved public transportation will eventually have to be supplied, for the tires on the cars of the workers, and perhaps even the cars themselves, will in many instances give in before the end of the present emergency. Photo taken in December, 1941. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

10

Marine Corps glider in flight out of Parris Island, South Carolina, in May of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

11

A Marine parachuting at Parris Island, South Carolina, in May of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

12

A parade of M-4 (General Sherman) and M-3 (General Grant) tanks in training maneuvers, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. Note the lower design of the M-4, the larger gun in the turret and the two hatches in front of the turret. Photographed in June of 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

13

Tank commander, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, June 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

30

Workers on the Liberator Bombers, at Consolidated Aircraft Corp., in Fort Worth, Texas, in October of 1942. (Howard Hollem/OWI/LOC) #

31

Lathe operator machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas, October, 1942. (Howard Hollem/OWI/LOC) #

32

Hitler would like this man to go home and forget about the war. A good American non-com at the side machine gun of a huge YB-17 bomber is a man who knows his business and works hard at it. Photographed in May, 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

33

Sunset silhouette of a flying fortress, at Langley Field, Virginia, in July, 1942. (Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC) #

18

Flying dangerously close, a U.S. Navy photographer got this spectacular aerial view of a heavy Japanese cruiser of the Mogima class, demolished by Navy bombs, in the battle of Midway, in June of 1942. Armor plate, steel decks and superstructure are a tumbled mass. (AP Photo) #

19

The USS Yorktown lists heavily to port after being struck by Japanese bombers and torpedo planes in the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. A destroyer stands by at right to assist as a salvage crew on the flight deck tries to right the stricken aircraft carrier. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #

20

Crewmen of the USS Yorktown pick their way along the sloping flight deck of the aircraft carrier as the ship listed heavily, heading for damaged sections to see if they can patch up the crippled ship, in June of 1942. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #

21

After Japanese bombers damaged the USS Yorktown, crewmen climb down ropes and ladders to small boats that transferred them to rescue ships, including the destroyer at right, on June 4, 1942 in the Pacific Ocean. Later, a salvage crew returned to the abandoned ship and as she made progress toward port, a torpedo from a Japanese submarine destroyed and sank the Yorktown. (AP Photo/US Navy)

Admiral Nagumo, in accordance with Japanese carrier doctrine at the time, had kept half of his aircraft in reserve. These comprised two squadrons each of dive bombers and torpedo bombers, the latter armed with torpedoes, should any American warships be located. The dive bombers were, as yet, unarmed.[60] As a result of the attacks from Midway, as well as the morning flight leader's recommendation of a second strike, at 07:15, Nagumo ordered his reserve planes to be re-armed with contact-fused general purpose bombs for use against land targets. Some sources maintain that this had been underway for about 30 minutes when, at 07:40[61] the delayed scout plane from Tone signaled that it had sighted a sizable American naval force to the east, although it neglected to describe the composition of this force. New evidence, however, suggests Nagumo did not receive the sighting report until 08:00, so the rearming operation actually proceeded for 45 minutes.[62] Nagumo quickly reversed his order and demanded that the scout plane ascertain the composition of the American force, but another 40 minutes elapsed before Tone's scout finally radioed the presence of a single carrier in the American force: this was one of the carriers from TF 16, the other carrier was not sighted.[63]

Nagumo was now in a quandary. Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, leading Carrier Division 2 (Hiryū and Sōryū), recommended Nagumo strike immediately with the forces at hand: 18 Aichi D3A1 dive bombers each on Sōryū and Hiryū, and half the ready cover patrol aircraft.[64] Nagumo's seeming opportunity to hit the American ships,[65] however, was now limited by the fact that his Midway strike force would be returning shortly and needing to land promptly or ditch (as is commonly believed).[66] Because of the constant flight deck activity associated with combat air patrol operations during the preceding hour, the Japanese never had an opportunity to "spot" (position) their reserve for launch. The few aircraft on the Japanese flight decks at the time of the attack were either defensive fighters, or (in the case of Sōryū) fighters being spotted to augment the task force defenses.[67] Spotting his flight decks and launching aircraft would have required at least 30–45 minutes.[68] Furthermore, by spotting and launching immediately, Nagumo would be committing some of his reserve to battle without proper anti-ship armament; he had just witnessed how easily unescorted American bombers had been shot down.[69] (In the event, poor discipline saw many of the Japanese bombers ditch their bombs and attempt to dogfight intercepting F4Fs.)[70] Japanese carrier doctrine preferred fully constituted strikes, and without confirmation (until 08:20) of whether the American force included carriers, Nagumo's reaction was doctrinaire.[71] In addition, the arrival of another American air strike at 07:53 gave weight to the need to attack the island again. In the end, Nagumo chose to wait for his first strike force to land, then launch the reserve, which would by then be properly armed and ready.[72]

In the final analysis, it made no difference; Fletcher's carriers had launched beginning at 07:00, so the aircraft which would deliver the crushing blow were already on their way. There was nothing Nagumo could do about it. This was the fatal flaw of Yamamoto's dispositions: they followed strictly traditional battleship doctrine.Devastators of VT-6 aboard USS Enterprise being prepared for take off during the battle.

The Americans had already launched their carrier aircraft against the Japanese. Admiral Fletcher, in overall command aboard Yorktown, and benefiting from PBY patrol bomber sighting reports from the early morning, ordered Spruance to launch against the Japanese as soon as was practical, while initially holding Yorktown in reserve should there be any other Japanese carriers discovered.[74] (Fletcher's directions to Spruance were relayed via Nimitz who, unlike Yamamoto, had remained ashore.)

Spruance judged that, though the range was extreme, a strike could succeed and gave the order "Launch the attack" at around 06:00. He then left Halsey's Chief of Staff, Captain Miles Browning, to work out the details and oversee the launch, which did not go smoothly. It took until a few minutes after 07:00 before the first plane was able to depart from Spruance's carriers, Enterprise and Hornet. Fletcher, upon completing his own scouting flights, followed suit at 08:00 from Yorktown.[75]

Fletcher, Yorktown's commanding officer, Captain Elliott Buckmaster, and their staffs had acquired first-hand experience in organizing and launching a full strike against an enemy force at Coral Sea, but there was no time to pass these lessons to Enterprise and Hornet which were tasked with launching the first strike.[76] Spruance gave at this point his second crucial command, "Proceed to target" -- not to cast away precious minutes, waiting for the strike force to assemble fully, but to proceed to the target as quickly as possible, since neutralizing enemy carriers was the key to the survival of his own task force. Spruance judged that the need to throw something at the enemy as soon as feasible was greater than the need for a coordinated attack among the different types of aircraft (fighters, bombers, torpedo planes). Accordingly, American squadrons were launched piecemeal and proceeded to the target in several different groups. The lack of coordination was expected to diminish the overall impact of the American attacks as well as increasing their casualties. However, Spruance calculated that this risk was worth it, since keeping the Japanese under aerial attack hampered their ability to launch a counterstrike (Japanese doctrine preferred fully constituted attacks), and he gambled that he could find Nagumo with his decks at their most vulnerable.[75][76]

American carrier aircraft had difficulty locating the target, despite the positions they had been given. The strike from Hornet, led by Commander Stanhope C. Ring, followed an incorrect heading of 263 degrees rather than the 240 heading indicated by the contact report. As a result, Air Group Eight's dive bombers missed the Japanese carriers.[77] Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8, from Hornet), led by Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron, broke formation from Ring and followed the correct heading. Waldron's squadron sighted the enemy carriers and began attacking at 09:20, followed by Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6, from Enterprise) at 09:40.[78] Without fighter escort, all fifteen TBD Devastators of VT-8 were shot down without being able to inflict any damage, with Ensign George H. Gay, Jr. the only survivor. VT-6 met nearly the same fate, with no hits to show for its effort, thanks in part to the abysmal performance of their Mark 13 aircraft torpedoes;[79] senior Navy and BuOrd officers never questioned why half a dozen torpedoes, released so close to the Japanese carriers, produced no results.[80] The Japanese combat air patrol, flying the much faster Mitsubishi A6M2 "Zeros", made short work of the unescorted, slow, under-armed TBDs. A few TBDs managed to get within a few ship-lengths range of their targets before dropping their torpedoes, coming close enough to be able to strafe the enemy ships and force the Japanese carriers to make sharp evasive maneuvers.[81]

The American torpedo attacks indirectly achieved three important results. First, they kept the Japanese carriers off balance and unable to prepare and launch their own counterstrike. Second, they pulled the Japanese combat air patrol (CAP) out of position. Third, many of the Zeros ran low on ammunition and fuel.[82] The appearance of a third torpedo plane attack from the southeast by Torpedo Squadron 3 (VT-3) at 10:00 very quickly drew the majority of the Japanese CAP to the southeast quadrant of the fleet.[83] Better discipline and employment of all the Zeroes aboard might have enabled Nagumo to succeed.[84]

By chance, at the same time VT-3 was sighted by the Japanese, three squadrons of American SBDs from Enterprise and Yorktown, VB-6, VS-6 and VB-3 respectively, were approaching the Japanese fleet from the northeast and southwest. They were running low on fuel because of the time spent looking for the enemy. However, squadron commander C. Wade McClusky, Jr. decided to continue the search and by good fortune spotted the wake of the Japanese destroyer Arashi. The destroyer was steaming at full speed to rejoin Nagumo's carrier force after having unsuccessfully depth-charged the U.S. submarine Nautilus, which had earlier unsuccessfully attacked the battleship Kirishima.[85] Some bombers were lost from fuel exhaustion before the attack commenced.[86]

McClusky's decision to continue the search and his judgment, in the opinion of Admiral Chester Nimitz, "decided the fate of our carrier task force and our forces at Midway...."[87] The American dive-bombers arrived at the perfect time to attack.[88] Armed Japanese strike aircraft filled the hangar decks, fuel hoses snaked across the decks as refueling operations were hastily completed, and the repeated change of ordnance meant bombs and torpedoes were stacked around the hangars, rather than stowed safely in the magazines,[89] making the Japanese carriers extraordinarily vulnerable.

Enterprise's VB-6 and VS-6 air group split up and attacked two targets. Beginning at 10:22, McClusky and his wingmen scored hits on Kaga, while to the north Akagi was attacked four minutes later by three bombers,[81] led by Lieutenant Commander Richard Halsey Best. Yorktown's VB-3, commanded by Max Leslie, went for Sōryū, scoring hits. Simultaneously, VT-3 targeted Hiryū, which was sandwiched between Sōryū, Kaga, and Akagi, but achieved no hits. The dive-bombers left Sōryū and Kaga ablaze within six minutes. Akagi was hit by just one bomb (dropped by Lieutenant Commander Best), which penetrated to the upper hangar deck and exploded among the armed and fueled aircraft there. One bomb exploded underwater very close astern; the resulting geyser bent the flight deck upward and also caused crucial rudder damage.[nb 6] Sōryū took three bombs in her hangar deck, Kaga at least four, possibly five. All three carriers were out of action and were eventually abandoned and scuttledYorktown at the moment of impact of a torpedo air-launched from a Nakajima B5N of Lieutenant Hashimoto's 2nd chūtai.[91]

Hiryū, the sole surviving Japanese aircraft carrier, wasted little time in counterattacking. The first wave of Japanese dive bombers badly damaged Yorktown with three bomb hits that snuffed out her boilers, immobilizing her: however, in about an hour her damage control teams patched her up so effectively that the second wave's torpedo bombers mistook her for an undamaged carrier.[92] Despite Japanese hopes to even the odds by eliminating two carriers with two strikes, Yorktown absorbed both Japanese attacks, the second wave mistakenly believing Yorktown had already been sunk and that they were attacking Enterprise. After two torpedo hits, Yorktown lost power and developed a 26° list to port, which put her out of action and forced Admiral Fletcher to move his command staff to the heavy cruiser Astoria. Both carriers of Spruance's Task Force 16 were undamaged.[93]

News of the two strikes, with the reports that each had sunk an American carrier, greatly improved morale in the Kido Butai. Its few surviving aircraft were all recovered aboard Hiryū, where they were prepared for a strike against what was believed to be the only remaining American carrier.[94]

[edit] American counterattack

Late in the afternoon, a Yorktown scout aircraft located Hiryū, prompting Enterprise to launch a final strike of dive bombers (including 10 SBDs from Yorktown). Despite Hiryū being defended by a strong cover of more than a dozen Zero fighters, the attack by Enterprise was successful: four, possibly five bombs hit Hiryū, leaving the carrier ablaze and unable to operate aircraft. (Hornet's strike, launched late because of a communications error, concentrated on the remaining escort ships, but failed to score any hits.) After futile attempts at controlling the blaze, most of the remaining crew on Hiryū were evacuated and the remainder of the fleet continued sailing north-east in an attempt to intercept the American carriers. Hiryū stayed afloat for several more hours, being discovered early the next morning by an aircraft from the carrier Hōshō, prompting hopes that the Hiryu could be saved and perhaps even towed back to Japan. However, soon after being spotted, Hiryū sank. Rear Admiral Yamaguchi chose to go down with his ship, costing Japan perhaps her best carrier commander.Hiryū, shortly before sinking: this photo was taken by Special Service Ensign Kiyoshi Ōniwa from a Yokosuka B4Y off the carrier Hōshō.[96]

As darkness fell, both sides took stock and made tentative plans for continuing the action. Admiral Fletcher, obliged to abandon the derelict Yorktown and feeling he could not adequately command from a cruiser, ceded operational command to Spruance. Spruance knew the United States had won a great victory, but was still unsure of what Japanese forces remained and was determined to safeguard both Midway and his carriers. To aid his aviators, who had launched at extreme range, he had continued to close with Nagumo during the day, and persisted as night fell. This late afternoon strike narrowly missed detecting Yamamoto's main body and failed to score hits on a straggling Japanese destroyer. The strike planes returned to the carriers after nightfall, prompting Spruance to order Enterprise and Hornet to turn on their lights to aid the landings.[97][nb 7] Finally, fearing a possible night encounter with Japanese surface forces,[98] Spruance changed course and withdrew to the east, turning back west towards the enemy at midnight.[99] For his part, Yamamoto initially decided to continue the engagement and sent his remaining surface forces searching eastward for the American carriers. Simultaneously, a cruiser raiding force was detached to bombard the island. The Japanese surface forces failed to make contact with the Americans due to Spruance's decision to briefly withdraw eastward, and Yamamoto ordered a general retirement to the west.[100] [nb 8]

At 02:15 on the night of 5/6 June, Commander John Murphy's Tambor, lying some 90 nmi (100 mi; 170 km) west of Midway, made the second of the Submarine Force's two major contributions to the battle's outcome. Sighting several ships, neither Murphy or his exec, Ray Spruance, Jr., could identify them and, fearing they might be friendly, Murphy held fire. He did, however, report the ships to Admiral Robert English, Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC), but neglected to confirm their course. This report was passed on by English to Nimitz, who then sent it to Spruance. Unaware of the exact location of Yamamoto's "Main Body" (a persistent problem since PBYs had first sighted the Japanese), Spruance assumed this sighting was of the invasion force and moved to block it while staying some 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) northeast of Midway.[102]

The ships sighted by Tambor were the four cruisers and two destroyers Yamamoto had sent to bombard Midway. At 02:55, these ships received Yamamoto's order to retire and changed course to comply.[102] At about the same time as the course change, Tambor was sighted and, during maneuvers designed to avoid a submarine attack, Mogami and Mikuma collided, inflicting serious damage to Mogami's bow: although the less severely damaged Mikuma slowed to 12 knots to keep pace with Mogami.[103] This was the most damage any of the 18[104] submarines deployed for the battle achieved. Only at 04:12 did the sky brighten enough for Murphy to be certain the ships were Japanese, by which time staying surfaced was a hazard, and he dived to approach for an attack. This was unsuccessful, and at around 06:00, he finally reported two westbound Mogami-class cruisers.[105]

Over the following two days, first Midway and then Spruance's carriers launched several strikes against the stragglers. Mikuma was eventually sunk by Dauntlesses,[106] while Mogami survived further severe damage to return home for repairs. The destroyers Arashio and Asashio were also bombed and strafed during the last of these attacks.[107] Captain Richard E. Fleming, a U.S. Marine Corps aviator, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his attack on Mikuma.[108]

Meanwhile, salvage efforts on Yorktown were encouraging, and she was taken in tow by USS Vireo. In the late afternoon of 6 June, however, Yorktown was struck by two torpedoes from I-168. There were few casualties, since most of the crew had already been evacuated, but a third torpedo from this salvo struck and sank the destroyer USS Hammann, which had been providing auxiliary power to Yorktown. Hammann broke in two with the loss of 80 lives, most due to her own depth charges exploding. Yorktown lingered until just after 05:00 on 7 June.

By the time the battle ended, 3,057 Japanese had died. Casualties aboard the four carriers were: Akagi: 267; Kaga: 811; Hiryu: 392; Soryu: 711; a total of 2,181.[110] The heavy cruisers Mikuma (sunk; 700 casualties) and Mogami (badly damaged; 92) accounted for another 792 deaths.[111]

In addition, the destroyers Arashio (bombed; 35) and Asashio (strafed by aircraft; 21) both were damaged during the air attacks which sank Mikuma and caused further damage to Mogami. Floatplanes were lost from the cruisers Chikuma (3) and Tone (2). Dead aboard the destroyers Tanikaze (11), Arashi (1), Kazagumo (1) and the fleet oiler Akebono Maru (10) made up the remaining 23 casualties.

 

22

The United States destroyer Hammann, background, on its way to the bottom of the Pacific after having been hit by a Japanese torpedo during the battle of Midway, in June of 1942. The Hammann had been providing auxiliary power to damaged USS Yorktown while salvage operations were underway. The same attack also struck the Yorktown, which sank the following morning. Crewmen of another U.S. warship, foreground, line the rail as their vessel stands by to rescue survivors. (AP Photo) #

23

A U.S. seaman, wounded during the Battle of Midway, is transferred from one warship to another at sea in June of 1942. (LOC) #

24

Japanese prisoners of war under guard on Midway, following their rescue from an open lifeboat by USS Ballard, on June 19, 1942. They were survivors of the sunken aircraft carrier Hiryu. After being held for a few days on Midway, they were sent on to Pearl Harbor on June 23, aboard USS Sirius. (U.S. Navy)

After winning a clear victory, and as pursuit became too hazardous near Wake,[112] American forces retired. Historian Samuel E. Morison wrote in 1949 that Spruance was subjected to much criticism for not pursuing the retreating Japanese, and allowing the retreating Japanese surface fleet to escape.[113] Clay Blair argued in 1975 that had Spruance pressed on, he would have been unable to launch his aircraft after nightfall, and his cruiser escorts would have been overwhelmed by Yamamoto's larger and more powerful surface units, including Yamato.[112]

On 10 June, the Imperial Japanese Navy conveyed to the military liaison conference an incomplete picture of the results of the battle. Chūichi Nagumo's detailed battle report was submitted to the high command 15 June. It was intended only for the highest echelons in the Japanese Navy and government, and was guarded closely throughout the war. In it, one of the more striking revelations is the comment on the Mobile Force Commander's (Nagumo's) estimates: "The enemy is not aware of our plans (we were not discovered till early in the morning of the 5th at the earliest)."[114] The Japanese public were kept in the dark as to the extent of the defeat, as was much of the military command structure. Japanese news announced a great victory. Only Emperor Hirohito and the highest Navy command personnel were accurately informed of the carrier and pilot losses. Subsequently, Army planners continued to believe, for at least a short time, that the fleet was in good condition.[115]

On the return of the Japanese fleet to Hashirajima on 14 June the wounded were immediately transferred to naval hospitals; most were classified as "secret patients", placed in isolation wards and quarantined from other patients and their own families to prevent the secret of this major defeat from getting out to the general populace.[116] The remaining officers and men were quickly dispersed to other units of the fleet and, with no chance to see family or friends, were shipped to units in the South Pacific where the majority died.[117] By contrast none of the flag officers or staff of the Combined Fleet were penalized, with Nagumo later being placed in command of the rebuilt carrier force.[118]

The Japanese Navy did learn some lessons from Midway: new procedures were adopted whereby more aircraft were refueled and re-armed on the flight deck, rather than in the hangars, and the practice of draining all unused fuel lines was adopted. The new carriers being built were redesigned to incorporate only two flight deck elevators and new firefighting equipment. More carrier crew members were trained in damage-control and firefighting techniques, although the losses later in the war of Shōkaku, Hiyō and Taihō showed that there were still problems in this area.[119] Replacement pilots went through an abbreviated training regimen, meeting the short-term needs of the fleet; however, this led to a decline in the quality of training. These inexperienced pilots were fed into front-line units, while the veterans who remained after Midway and the Solomons campaign were forced to share an increased workload in increasingly desperate conditions, with few being given a chance to rest in rear areas or in the home islands. As a result, Japanese naval air groups progressively declined in overall quality during the war.[120]

Allegations of war crimes

Three U.S. airmen, Ensign Wesley Osmus (pilot, Yorktown), Ensign Frank O'Flaherty (pilot, Enterprise) and Aviation Machinist's Mate B. F. (or B. P.) Bruno Gaido (radioman-gunner of O'Flaherty's SBD) were captured by the Japanese during the battle. Osmus was held on the Arashi, with O'Flaherty and Gaido on the cruiser Nagara (or destroyer Makigumo, sources vary), and it is alleged they were later killed.[121] The report filed by Admiral Nagumo states of Ensign Osmus, "He died on 6 June and was buried at sea". Nagumo recorded obtaining seven items of information, including the enemy's strength, but did not mention the death of O'Flaherty or Gaido.[122] O'Flaherty and Gaido were tied to five-gallon kerosene cans filled with water and dumped overboard at an unknown date several days or more after the battle

 

25

Bleak, mountainous Attu Island in Alaska had a population of only about 46 people prior to the Japanese invasion. On June 6, 1942, a Japanese force of 1,100 soldiers landed, occupying the island. One resident was killed in the invasion, the remaining 45 were shipped to a Japanese prison camp near Otaru, Hokkaido, where sixteen died while in captivity. This is a picture of Attu village situated on Chichagof Harbor. (O. J Murie/LOC) #

26

On June 3, 1942, a Japanese aircraft carrier strike force launched air attacks over two days against the Dutch Harbor Naval Base and Fort Mears in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. In this photo, bombs explode in the water near Dutch Harbor, during the attack on June 4, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

27

U.S. forces watch a massive fireball rise above Dutch Harbor, Alaska after a Japanese air strike in June of 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

28

Defending Dutch Harbor, Alaska during the Japanese air attacks of June 3-4, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

29

Bombing of SS Northwestern and oil tanks in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, by Japanese carrier-based aircraft on June 4, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

30

U.S. soldiers fight a fire after an air raid by Japanese dive bombers on their base in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in June 1942. (AP Photo)

During World War II, many colonels and sergeants not yet 30 came to be called 'the old man' by their soldiers. That is how they got to look and to feel, amid the burden of daily life-and-death responsibilities.

The Pacific series lacks the human continuity of Band Of Brothers. It is hard to develop character in the same way, telling the story of a succession of island battles that involved different units.

 

31

Oil tanks, the SS Northwestern, a beached transport ship, and warehouses on fire after Japanese air raids in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on June 4, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

32

The ruins of a bombed ship at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on June 5, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

33

Decoy aircraft are laid out by occupying Japanese forces on a shoreline on Kiska Island on June 18, 1942. (U.S. Navy) #

34

A train of bombs drops from United States Army Air forces plane on territory in the Aleutians held by the Japanese in 1943. (LOC) #

35

Bombs dropped from a U.S. bomber detonate on Japanese-occupied Kiska Island, Alaska, on August 10, 1943. (USAF) #

36

Japanese ship aground in Kiska Harbor, on September 18, 1943. (U.S. Navy) #

37

Dozens of bombs fall from a U.S. bomber toward Japanese-occupied Kiska Island, Alaska, on August 10, 1943. Note the craters from previous bombing runs and the zig-zag trenches dug by the Japanese. (USAF) #

38

Adak Harbor in the Aleutians, with part of huge U.S. fleet at anchor, ready to move against Kiska in August of 1943. (NARA) #

39

USS Pruitt leads landing craft from USS Heywood toward their landing beaches in Massacre Bay, Attu, on the first day of the May 11, 1943 invasion of Attu. Pruitt used her radar and searchlight to guide the boats nine miles through the fog. The searchlight beam is faintly visible pointing aft from atop her pilothouse. Some 15,000 American and Canadian troops successfully landed on the island. (U.S. Navy) #

40

Landing boats pouring soldiers and their equipment onto the beach at Massacre Bay, Attu Island, Alaska. This is the southern landing force on May 11, 1943. The American and Canadian troops took control of Attu within two weeks, after fierce fighting with the Japanese occupying forces. Of the allied troops, 549 were killed and 1,148 wounded -- of the Japanese troops, only 29 men survived. U.S. burial teams counted 2,351 Japanese dead, and presumed hundreds more were unaccounted for. (LOC) #

41

A Canadian member of the joint American-Canadian landing force squints down the sights of a Japanese machine gun found in a trench on Kiska Island, Alaska, on August 16, 1943. After the brutal fighting in the battle to retake Attu Island, U.S. and Canadian forces were prepared for even more of a fight on Kiska. Unknown to the Allies though, the Japanese had evacuated all their troops two weeks earlier. Although the invasion was unopposed, 32 soldiers were killed in friendly-fire incidents, four more by booby traps, and a further 191 were listed as Missing in Action. (LOC) #

42

Wrecked Japanese planes, oil and gas drums are a mass of rubble on Kiska, Aleutian Islands, on August 19, 1943, as a result of Allied bombings. (NARA) #

43

A group of approximately 40 dead Japanese soldiers on a mountain ridge on Attu Island on May 29, 1943. Several groups of Japanese soldiers were encountered in this manner by U.S. troops, who reported that the Japanese realized they were trapped and decided to either attack in suicidal Banzai charges, or (as in this photo) to commit hara-kiri as a group, killing themselves with their own hand grenades. (U.S. Army Signal Corps) #

44

A heavily damaged midget submarine base constructed by occupying Japanese forces on Kiska Island, photo taken sometime in 1943, after Allied forces retook the island. (U.S. Navy) #

45

On Kiska Island, after Allied troops had landed, this grave marker was discovered in a small graveyard amid the bombed-out ruins in August of 1943. The marker was made and placed by members of the occupying Japanese Army, after they had buried an American pilot who had crashed on the island. The marker reads: "Sleeping here, a brave air-hero who lost youth and happiness for his Mother land. July 25 - Nippon Army" (U.S. Navy)

By the end of 1942, the Japanese Empire had expanded to its farthest extent. Japanese soldiers were occupying or attacking positions from India to Alaska, as well as islands across the South Pacific. From the end of that year through early 1945, the U.S. Navy, under Admiral Chester Nimitz, adopted a strategy of "island-hopping". Rather than attacking Japan's Imperial Navy in force, the goal was to capture and control strategic islands along a path toward the Japanese home islands, bringing U.S. bombers within range and preparing for a possible invasion. Japanese soldiers fought the island landings fiercely, killing many Allied soldiers and sometimes making desperate, last-ditch suicidal attacks. At sea, Japanese submarine, bomber, and kamikaze attacks took a heavy toll on the U.S. fleet, but Japan was unable to halt the island-by-island advance. By early 1945, leapfrogging U.S. forces had advanced as far as Iwo Jima and Okinawa, within 340 miles of mainland Japan, at a great cost to both sides. On Okinawa alone, during 82 days of fighting, approximately 100,000 Japanese troops and 12,510 Americans were killed, and somewhere between 42,000 and 150,000 Okinawan civilians died as well. At this point, U.S. forces were nearing their position for the next stage of their offensive against the Empire of Japan.

 

Four Japanese transports, hit by both U.S. surface vessels and aircraft, beached and burning at Tassafaronga, west of positions on Guadalcanal, on November 16, 1942. They were part of the huge force of auxiliary and combat vessels the enemy attempted to bring down from the north on November 13th and 14th. Only these four reached Guadalcanal. They were completely destroyed by aircraft, artillery and surface vessel guns. (AP Photo)

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2

Following in the cover of a tank, American infantrymen secure an area on Bougainville, Solomon Islands, in March 1944, after Japanese forces infiltrated their lines during the night. (AP Photo) #

3

Torpedoed Japanese destroyer Yamakaze, photographed through periscope of USS Nautilus, 25 June 1942. The Yamakaze sank within five minutes of being struck, there were no survivors. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #

4

American reconnaissance patrol into the dense jungles of New Guinea, on December 18, 1942. Lt. Philip Winson had lost one of his boots while building a raft and he made a make-shift boot out of part of a ground sheet and straps from a pack. (AP Photo/Ed Widdis) #

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5

Japanese soldiers killed while manning a mortar on the beach are shown partially buried in the sand at Guadalcanal on the Solomon Islands following attack by U.S. Marines in August 1942. (AP Photo) #

6

A helmeted Australian soldier, rifle in hand, looks out over a typical New Guinea landscape in the vicinity of Milne Bay on October 31, 1942, where an earlier Japanese attempt at invasion was defeated by the Australian defenders. (AP Photo) #

7

Japanese bomber planes sweep in very low for an attack on U.S. warships and transporters, on September 25, 1942, at an unknown location in the Pacific Ocean. (AP Photo) #

8

On August 24, 1942, while operating off the coast of the Solomon Islands, the USS Enterprise suffered heavy attacks by Japanese bombers. Several direct hits on the flight deck killed 74 men; the photographer of this picture was reportedly among the dead. (AP Photo) #

9

A breeches buoy is put into service to transfer from a U.S. destroyer to a cruiser survivors of a ship, November 14, 1942 which had been sunk in naval action against the Japanese off the Santa Cruz Islands in the South pacific on October 26. The American Navy turned back the Japanese in the battle but lost an aircraft carrier and a destroyer. (AP Photo) #

10

These Japanese prisoners were among those captured by U.S. forces on Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands, shown November 5, 1942. (AP Photo) #

11

Japanese-held Wake Island under attack by U.S. carrier-based planes in November 1943. (AP Photo) #

12

Crouching low, U.S. Marines sprint across a beach on Tarawa Island to take the Japanese airport on December 2, 1943. (AP Photo) #

13

Secondary batteries of an American cruiser formed this pattern of smoke rings as guns from the warship blasted at the Japanese on Makin Island in the Gilberts before U.S. forces invaded the atoll on November 20, 1943. (AP Photo) #

14

Troops of the 165th infantry, New York's former "Fighting 69th" advance on Butaritari Beach, Makin Atoll, which already was blazing from naval bombardment which preceded on November 20, 1943. The American forces seized the Gilbert Island Atoll from the Japanese. (AP Photo) #

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15

Sprawled bodies of American soldiers on the beach of Tarawa atoll testify to the ferocity of the battle for this stretch of sand during the U.S. invasion of the Gilbert Islands, in late November 1943. During the 3-day Battle of Tarawa, some 1,000 U.S. Marines died, and another 687 U.S. Navy sailors lost their lives when the USS Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese torpedo. (AP Photo) #

16

U.S. Marines are seen as they advance against Japanese positions during the invasion at Tarawa atoll, Gilbert Islands, in this late November 1943 photo. Of the nearly 5,000 Japanese soldiers and workers on the island, only 146 were captured, the rest were killed. (AP Photo) #

17

Infantrymen of Company "I" await the word to advance in pursuit of retreating Japanese forces on the Vella Lavella Island Front, in the Solomon Islands, on September 13, 1943. (U.S. Army) #

18

Two of twelve U.S. A-20 Havoc light bombers on a mission against Kokas, Indonesia in July of 1943. The lower bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire after dropping its bombs, and plunged into the sea, killing both crew members. (USAF) #

19

Small Japanese craft flee from larger vessels during an American aerial attack on Tonolei Harbor, Japanese base on Bougainville Island, in the Central Solomon Islands on October 9, 1943. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #

20

Two U.S. Marines direct flame throwers at Japanese defenses that block the way to Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi on March 4, 1945. On the left is Pvt. Richard Klatt, of North Fond Dulac, Wisconsin, and on the right is PFC Wilfred Voegeli. (AP Photo/U.S. Marine Corps) #

21

A member of a U.S. Marine patrol discovers this Japanese family hiding in a hillside cave, June 21, 1944, on Saipan. The mother, four children and a dog took shelter in the cave from the fierce fighting in the area during the U.S. invasion of the Mariana Islands. (AP Photo) #

22

Columns of troop-packed LCIs (Landing Craft, Infantry) trail in the wake of a Coast Guard-manned LST (Landing Ship, Tank) en route to the invasion of Cape Sansapor, New Guinea in 1944. (Photographer's Mate, 1st Cl. Harry R. Watson/U.S. Coast Guard) #

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23

Dead Japanese soldiers cover the beach at Tanapag, on Saipan Island, in the Marianas, on July 14, 1944, after their last desperate attack on the U.S. Marines who invaded the Japanese stronghold in the Pacific. An estimated 1,300 Japanese were killed by the Marines in this operation. (AP Photo) #

24

With its gunner visible in the back cockpit, this Japanese dive bomber, smoke streaming from the cowling, is headed for destruction in the water below after being shot down near Truk, Japanese stronghold in the Carolines, by a Navy PB4Y on July 2, 1944. Lieutenant Commander William Janeshek, pilot of the American plane, said the gunner acted as though he was about to bail out and then suddenly sat down and was still in the plane when it hit the water and exploded. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #

25

As a rocket-firing LCI lays down a barrage on the already obscured beach on Peleliu, a wave of Alligators (LVTs, or Landing Vehicle Tracked) churn toward the defenses of the strategic island September 15, 1944. The amphibious tanks with turret-housed cannons went in in after heavy air and sea bombardment. Army and Marine assault units stormed ashore on Peleliu on September 15, and it was announced that organized resistance was almost entirely ended on September 27. (AP Photo) #

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26

U.S. Marines of the first Marine Division stand by the corpses of two of their comrades, who were killed by Japanese soldiers on a beach on Peleliu island, Republic of Palau, in September of 1944. After the end of the invasion, 10,695 of the 11,000 Japanese soldiers stationed on the island had been killed, only some 200 captured. U.S. forces suffered some 9,800 casualties, including 1,794 killed. (AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal/Pool) #

27

Para-frag bombs fall toward a camouflaged Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-21, "Sally", during an attack by the US Army Fifth Air Force against Old Namlea airport on Buru Island, Dutch East Indies, on October 15, 1944. A few seconds after this picture was taken the aircraft was engulfed in flames. The design of the para-frag bomb enabled low flying bombing attacks to be carried out with higher accuracy. (AP Photo) #

28

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, center, is accompanied by his officers and Sergio Osmena, president of the Philippines in exile, extreme left, as he wades ashore during landing operations at Leyte, Philippines, on October 20, 1944, after U.S. forces recaptured the beach of the Japanese-occupied island. (AP Photo/U.S. Army) #

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29

The bodies of Japanese soldiers lie strewn across a hillside after being shot by U.S. soldiers as they attempted a banzai charge over a ridge in Guam, in 1944. (AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal) #

30

Smoke billows up from the Kowloon Docks and railroad yards after a surprise bombing attack on Hong Kong harbor by the U.S. Army 14th Air Force Oct. 16, 1944. A Japanese fighter plane (left center) turns in a climb to attack the bombers. Between the Royal Navy yard, left, enemy vessels spout flames, and just outside the boat basin, foreground, another ship has been hit. (AP Photo) #

31

A Japanese torpedo bomber goes down in flames after a direct hit by 5-inch shells from the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, on October 25, 1944. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #

32

Landing barges loaded with U.S. troops bound for the beaches of Leyte island, in October 1944, as American and Japanese fighter planes duel to the death overhead. The men aboard the crafts watch the dramatic battle in the sky as they approach the shore. (AP Photo) #

33

This photo provided by former Kamikaze pilot Toshio Yoshitake, shows Yoshitake, right, and his fellow pilots, from left, Tetsuya Ueno, Koshiro Hayashi, Naoki Okagami and Takao Oi, as they pose together in front of a Zero fighter plane before taking off from the Imperial Army airstrip in Choshi, just east of Tokyo, on November 8, 1944. None of the 17 other pilots and flight instructors who flew with Yoshitake on that day survived. Yoshitake only survived because an American warplane shot him out of the air, he crash-landed and was rescued by Japanese soldiers. (AP Photo) #

34

A Japanese kamikaze pilot in a damaged single-engine bomber, moments before striking the U.S. Aircraft Carrier USS Essex, off the Philippine Islands, on November 25, 1944. (U.S. Navy) #

35

A closer view of the Japanese kamikaze aircraft, smoking from antiaircraft hits and veering slightly to left moments before slamming into the USS Essex on November 25, 1944. (U.S. Navy) #

36

Aftermath of the November 25, 1943 kamikaze attack against the USS Essex. Fire-fighters and scattered fragments of the Japanese aircraft cover the flight deck. The plane struck the port edge of the flight deck, landing among planes fueled for takeoff, causing extensive damage, killing 15, and wounding 44. (U.S. Navy) #

37

The battleship USS Pennsylvania, followed by three cruisers, moves in line into Lingayen Gulf preceding the landing on Luzon, in the Philippines, in January of 1945. (U.S. Navy) #

38

U.S. Marines going ashore at Iwo Jima, a Japanese Island which was invaded on February 19, 1945. Photo made by a Naval Photographer, who flew over the armada of Navy and coast guard vessels in a Navy search plane. (AP Photo) #

39

A U.S. Marine, killed by Japanese sniper fire, still holds his weapon as he lies in the black volcanic sand of Iwo Jima, on February 19, 1945, during the initial invasion on the island. In the background are the battleships of the U.S. fleet that made up the invasion task force. (AP Photo) #

40

U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment of the Fifth Division raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on February 23, 1945. The Battle of Iwo Jima was the costliest in Marine Corps history, with almost 7,000 Americans killed in 36 days of fighting. (AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal) #

41

A U.S. cruiser fires her main batteries at Japanese positions on the southern tip of Okinawa, Japan in 1945. (AP Photo) #

42

U.S. invasion forces establish a beachhead on Okinawa island, about 350 miles from the Japanese mainland, on April 13. 1945. Pouring out war supplies and military equipment, the landing crafts fill the sea to the horizon, in the distance, battleships of the U.S. fleet. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard) #

43

An attack on one of the caves connected to a three-tier blockhouse destroys the structure on the edge of Turkey Nob, giving a clear view of the beachhead toward the southwest on Iwo Jima, as U.S. Marines storm the island on April 2, 1945. (AP Photo/W. Eugene Smith) #

44

The USS Santa Fe lies alongside the heavily listing USS Franklin to provide assistance after the aircraft carrier had been hit and set afire by a single Japanese dive bomber, during the Okinawa invasion, on March 19, 1945, off the coast of Honshu, Japan. More than 800 aboard were killed, with survivors frantically fighting fires and making enough repairs to save the ship. (AP Photo) #

45

During a Japanese air raid on Yonton Airfield, Okinawa, Japan on April 28, 1945, the corsairs of the "Hell's Belles," Marine Corps Fighter Squadron are silhouetted against the sky by a lacework of anti-aircraft shells. (AP Photo/U.S. Marine Corps)

 

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