Book Review: Air Group Commander Wade McClusky and the Battle of Midway


by David Rigby

Oxford & New York: Osprey Publishing, 2019. Pp. 384+. Illus., appends, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 1472834739

The Man Who Won the Battle of Midway?

The author of Allied Master Strategists and other interesting works, military historian Rigby has produced an excellent biography of C. Wade McClusky (1902-1976), who led the Enterprise (CV 6) air group at Midway.

Rigby’s purpose is, in effect, to rescue McClusky from the increasing neglect of the importance of his role in the campaign. Despite his having made what was arguably the single most important decision of the battle on June 4, 1942, and perhaps of the entire Pacific War as well, a matter recognized at the time on the highest levels, more recent accounts of the battle have often neglected McClusky’s role.

Some authors have even levelled unwarranted criticism of McClusky’s actions. For example, at least one author has claimed that he was unfamiliar with dive bombing, yet he had qualified in that specialty and even commanded a dive bomber squadron for a time.

So while Rigby covers McClusky’s background, early career in the Navy, and his role in the war subsequent to Midway, he goes over the battle in great detail; five of his twenty chapters cover the events of June 4th and another those of June 5th, at times quite literally minute-by-minute. An excellent work, Rigby not only restores McClusky’s centrality to the outcome of the battle, but also gives us glimpses of some of the other actors, King, Nimitz, Spruance, and particularly Miles Browning.

Despite the lack of maps, Air Group Commander Wade McClusky and the Battle of Midway is an essential read for anyone interested in the Midway and the Pacific War in general, as well as naval aviation.


Note: Air Group Commander Wade McClusky and the Battle of Midway is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are shared with The New York Military Affairs Symposium



Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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