|This date was the beginning of the famous Battle of Midway where a world's future hung in the balance. In an amazing series of seemingly unlikely breaks the USN drove very well equipped, experienced, and in many ways larger naval force from the war. Never to return.
Midway was discussed broadly on a couple of other threads as a anecdote or to demonstrate one comparative point or other
about tactics equipment or training. I wonder what would have happened if Torpedo Eight hadn't drawn the Japanese air cover down to the sea to chase the doomed squadron, and then, Commander McClosky hadn't spoted a IJN destroyer who had just depth charged the USS natilus down deep, and was running to "catch up". That fortuitus observation by the dive bomber pilot and CAG of the Enterprise's air group set in motion a unlikely series of events that changed naval warfare forever and ended completely the IJN's ability to project its power across the Pacific.
A case study of this day would be very interesting. Links to follow.
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Online Library of Selected Images:
-- EVENTS -- World War II in the Pacific --
Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942 --
Overview and Special Image Selection
The Battle of Midway, fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll, represents the strategic high water mark of Japan's Pacific Ocean war. Prior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive.
Japanese Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto moved on Midway in an effort to draw out and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet's aircraft carrier striking forces, which had embarassed the Japanese Navy in the mid-April Doolittle Raid on Japan's home islands and at the Battle of Coral Sea in early May. He planned to quickly knock down Midway's defenses, follow up with an invasion of the atoll's two small islands and establish a Japanese air base there. He expected the U.S. carriers to come out and fight, but to arrive too late to save Midway and in insufficient strength to avoid defeat by his own well-tested carrier air power.
Yamamoto's intended surprise was thwarted by superior American communications intelligence, which deduced his scheme well before battle was joined. This allowed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, to establish an ambush by having his carriers ready and waiting for the Japanese. On 4 June 1942, in the second of the Pacific War's great carrier battles, the trap was sprung. The perserverance, sacrifice and skill of U.S. Navy aviators, plus a great deal of good luck on the American side, cost Japan four irreplaceable fleet carriers, while only one of the three U.S. carriers present was lost. The base at Midway, though damaged by Japanese air attack, remained operational and later became a vital component in the American trans-Pacific offensive.
This page presents a special selection of Battle of Midway views, chosen from the more comprehensive coverage featured in the following pages, and those linked from them:
Preparations for Battle, March 1942 to 4 June 1942;
Japanese Air Attack on Midway, 4 June 1942;
U.S. Attacks on the Japanese Carrier Striking Force, 4 June 1942;
U.S. Navy Ships in Action during the Battle, 4 June 1942;
Japanese Attacks on USS Yorktown, 4 June 1942; and
Midway Actions and Activities after 4 June 1942.
For artworks related to the Battle of Midway, see the Navy Art Gallery page The Battle of Midway.
For further information and links to related resources, see Frequently Asked Questions: Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942.
If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."
Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.
Photo #: 80-G-451086
Aerial photograph, looking just south of west across the southern side of the atoll, 24 November 1941. Eastern Island, then the site of Midway's airfield, is in the foreground. Sand Island, location of most other base facilities, is across the entrance channel.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.
Online Image: 127KB; 680 x 765 pixels
Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.
Photo #: 80-G-17056
Battle of Midway, June 1942
Burning oil tanks on Sand Island, Midway, following the Japanese air attack delivered on the morning of 4 June 1942.
These tanks were located near what was then the southern shor