Article

Battle of Midway

Anthony Tully

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online November 2015 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0153
Battle of Midway

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  • First World War
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Following the successful attack on Pearl Harbor and the effective destruction or crippling of the US Navy’s battle line, Japan’s First Air Fleet carriers of Kido Butai proceeded to rage almost unopposed for the next four months. Mindful of the importance of their aircraft carriers, which had escaped being at Pearl Harbor, the Americans were careful to choose their moments of deployment carefully. In the meantime, the commander in chief of the Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, grew impatient with the delay in bringing the enemy carriers to pitched battle. As long as the US carriers remained at large, both Japan’s plans and defense perimeter were threatened. Fully aware that Japan had perhaps a year, at most, before the full weight of America’s industrial might came to bear, Yamamoto devised a plan that he hoped would force a decisive carrier and surface battle on Japan’s terms and at a time of Japan’s choosing. There was one crucial catch. Yamamoto’s plan as conceived depended heavily on the element of surprise; that is, the American carriers must be lured into defending Midway. There was almost no allowance for Admiral Chester W. Nimitz having already placed his carriers in position beforehand. Yet, due to epic and brilliant codebreaking, that is exactly what happened. Sufficiently persuaded and forewarned by intelligence work, Nimitz stationed three carriers northeast of Midway. These carriers were in position well before the morning of 4 June 1942, the day Japanese admiral Chuichi Nagumo’s carriers were to raid Midway. The result was the Battle of Midway. By the time it was over, the invasion had been repelled, and four of Japan’s six fleet carriers and one of its heavy cruisers had been sunk. American losses in aircraft and pilots were severe, and an aircraft carrier and destroyer were sunk. But the Japanese navy could not afford such a trade. The heretofore seemingly invincible weapon system, the elite sword that was Kido Butai, had been shattered. Two of the three carrier divisions that formed the core of the First Air Fleet had been destroyed. After Midway, the United States and its allies wrested the strategic initiative from the Japanese and never really lost it again.

Article.  19976 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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