created by Ben Amisano and Colton Dorion
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The Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942) was a naval struggle between United States and Japan at the island of Midway Atoll. It is considered to be the most important naval battle to take place in the Pacific during the course of WWII. The United States Navy managed to defeat the Imperial Japanese Navy. The victory for the United States severely crippled Japans fleet and marked an end to Japanese expansion.


The Plan

Japan

Japanese admiral Isoruko Yamamoto wanted to force an attack in the Pacific before United States industrial power was fully mobilized against Japan. He decided to chose the location Midway Atholl, a small Military island northeast of Hawaii. Yamamoto knew that the United States would defend Midway with everything they had. If Midway fell, Hawaii would fall within range of Japanese aircraft, allowing Japan to invade within a matter of weeks.

United States

American code breakers were able to determine the exact date and location of the attack. This allowed United States Admiral Chester Nimitz to create an ambush on the Japanese. Nimitz secretly reinforced the air units on Midway, using the island as an unsinkable aircraft carrier. His carriers were positioned to the north-east of the island, waiting to ambush the Japanese carriers when they arrived for their assult.


Aftermath

The US Navy inflicted massive amounts of damage upon the Japanese fleet (see Losses in the Battle of Midway below). For example, the US lost just one aircraft carrier and a destroyer. Although a number of Japanese pilots did survive, many of the highly trained maintenance teams who maintained ships and aircrafts were killed in the battle. These heavy losses permanently weakened the Japanese armed forces. While the US continued to construct ships and train new pilots at a huge rate, Midway inflicted losses on the Japanese from which she could not recover. From this point on, the US enjoyed indisputable naval superiority in the Pacific.
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Significance

The American victory of the Battle of Midway is considered to be the turning point in the Pacific because it stopped further Japanese expansion and marked the end of Japanese offensive operations. The battle had also destroyed the majority of Japans naval fleet, causing them to become severely weakened.
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It was important for the Americans to win because if the Japanese had prevailed, all of the following would have been likely:

  • With the Japanese in control of Midway, the threat to Hawaii would have been enormous. Their long range plans included a full scale invasion in 1943, the success of which would likely have led to carrier raids against the U.S. Pacific coast.
  • With a powerful enemy virtually on its western shores, American resolve to prosecute the war in Europe would have been severely tested. And a reduced American commitment in Europe would have led to one of two probable scenarios, both of which are painful to contemplate:
  • An allied invasion of France in June 1944 would not have been possible, at least not then, giving the Nazis additional time to fortify their western defences and thus make a successful invasion less likely.
  • Or, something else that could have happened due to the lack of American-British pressure in the west would have allowed the Red Army to overrun all of Germany. Communist dominance of the entire European continent could easily have resulted, bringing a far more dismal set of conditions at the start of the Cold War than what actually happened.


Naval Forces at the Battle of Midway

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Carriers:

First Carrier Striking Force: Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga, Soryu
Main Force: Hosho
Midway Force: Zuiho

Total Carriers: 6

Carrier Aircrafts:

Zero Fighters: 96
Dive Bombers: 84
Torpedo Bombers: 113

Total Aircraft: 293

Battleships/Destroyers/Cruisers/Submarines:

Japanese Battleships: 11
Japanese Destroyers: 54
Japanese Cruisers: 16
Japanese Submarines: 22

Total: 103

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Carriers:

Task Force-16: Enterprise, Hornet
Task Force-17: Yorktown

Total Carriers: 3

Carrier & Midway Island Aircrafts:

Fighters: 81
Dive Bombers: 109
Torpedo Bombers: 44
Midway Island Aircraft: 105

Total Aircraft: 339

Battleships/Destroyers/Cruisers/Submarines:

US Battleships: 0
US Destroyers: 14
US Cruisers: 8
US Submarines: 19

Total: 41


Losses in the Battle of Midway

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Ships Sunk

Carriers: Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga, Soryu
Cruisers: Mikuma
Destroyers: None

Total Carrier Lost: 4
Total Cruisers Lost: 1
Total Destroyers Lost: 0

Aircraft Loss

Lost in Midway Air Strike: 6
Lost in Combat Air Patrol: 12
Lost in attacks against U.S. Carriers: 24
Lost with Carriers when they sunk: 219
Fighters Being Ferried Lost: 21
Seaplanes Lost:10

Total amount of Japanese Carrier Aircraft Lost: 248
Other: 44

Total amount of Japanese Aircraft Lost: 292

Casualties

Japanese: 3057

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Ships Sunk

Carriers: USS Yorktown
Cruisers: None
Destroyers: USS Hammann

Total Carrier Lost: 1
Total Cruisers Lost: 0
Total Destroyers Lost: 1

Aircraft Loss

Carrier Aircraft Lost: 109
Shore Based Aircraft Lost:
Marine: 2
Navy:6
Army:2

Total amount of United States Aircraft Lost: 145

Casualties

United States: 307


Video on The Battle of Midway



Sources

http://www.immf-midway.com
http://www.history.navy.mil/midway/midwaybattle-index.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Midway
History 12 Student Workbook - Battle of Midway Page 106-108