During nothing could stop the overwhelming advance of the

During WWII, the Pacific Theater was home to some of the most important naval battles in history. These included the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign. However, the most significant naval battle during the entire war was the Battle of Midway. This campaign resulted in a turning point of the war in the Pacific Theatre. It allowed the Americans to finally take the offensive against the Japanese and their powerful navy. Without this battle, the outcome of World War II on the Pacific front would have been drastically different. For a period of time after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese enjoyed a great deal “…of military successes. In December 1941, Guam and Wake Island fell to the Japanese, followed in the first half of 1942 by the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, and Burma” (“World War II in the Pacific”). It seemed as if nothing could stop the overwhelming advance of the Imperial Japanese Navy. For his next target Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, the Japanese fleet commander, set his sights on the island of Midway. It had been six months since the attack on Pearl Harbor and Isoroku wanted to finish the job by destroying what remained of the United States fleet (Prados, 2009). The article “Battle of Midway” states that, “Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, Japanese fleet commander, chose to invade a target relatively close to Pearl Harbor to draw out the American fleet, calculating that when the United States began its counterattack, the Japanese would be prepared to crush them” (Prados, 2009). Isoroku would have indeed succeeded with his plans if it were not for a critical intelligence breakthrough on the side of the Americans. The breakthrough would be due to Joseph Rochefort and his team Station Hypo, who were a group of “U.S. signal intelligence  (SIGINT) analysts,” (Munson, 2016).  After the attack on Pearl Harbor Station Hypo began an endeavor to crack JN-25, the Japanese naval code. They eventually did crack this code and discovered that the Japanese “were planning major operations against the central Pacific…” (Munson, 2016). Team Hypo also found out that the code name of the Japanese target was known as “AF” (Contributor, 2013). They started to believe that this target might be the atoll of Midway so to confirm this  Rochefort proposed a clever and somewhat humorous trick for the Japanese that Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Chester Nimitz allowed for use (Munson, 2016). This trick “… saw the American garrison at Midway send a fake message “in the clear” (on open channels) regarding broken water evaporator units on the island”(Munson, 2016). This ruse worked beautifully because “Almost immediately afterward, American listening posts intercepted Japanese transmissions mentioning the water shortage and the need to bring along extra water to support the operation”(Munson, 2016). This all but confirmed the target of the Japanese to be Midway and with their new profound knowledge the Americans finally had an advantage over their overseas foe.    As the U.S. continued to intercept the Japanese messages, crucial information began pouring in and this allowed them to get an accurate picture of the Japanese plans. “Pacific Fleet Intelligence Officer Lieutenant Commander Edwin “Eddie” Layton”  predicted that “the carriers would probably attack on the morning of 4 June, from the northwest on a nearing of 325 degrees. They could be sighted at about 175 miles from Midway at around 0700 local time”(Munson, 2016). Layton’s prediction turned out to be exceptionally close to what actually happened, being only “… five minutes, five degrees, and five miles off” (Munson, 2016). He tried to convince Nimitz to dedicate three of his aircraft carriers for the battle. These would be the USS Yorktown, the USS Hornet, and the USS Enterprise and together they would about match the Japanese’s four carriers, the Kaga, Hiryu, Akagi, and Soryu, and their planes. However, this move was especially risky because at this time in the war aircraft carriers were scarce. Nonetheless, Nimitz agreed to the plan and by the time of the battle the American’s would have a military force that would be able to give the Japanese Navy a run for their money.The battle began at 6:00 a.m. on June 4, 1942 when Japanese bombers from Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo’s First Carrier Striking Force attacked military bases on Midway (Kelly, 2013). During the attack “Defending U.S. Marine Corps fighters suffered heavy losses, but shot down significant numbers of key pilots” (Kelly, 2013). United States Marines, planes from the U.S. Army Air Force, and U.S. Navy based at Midway then made a succession of attacks to try to disrupt the Japanese Carrier Force from any more strikes (Kelly, 2013). The Nautilus, a submarine that was the “…oldest and least maneuverable boat in the Pacific Fleet” was also there to aid and this helped to frustrate the Japanese even more (Kelly, 2013). At about the same time U.S. task forces 16 and 17 launched attacks on the enemy and the Japanese finally became aware of the presence of U.S. Navy carrier forces in the area (Kelly, 2013). They now recognized that the Americans were going to put up a major fight.The U.S. wasted no time at all and sent torpedo and dive bombers to attack the Japanese. While this endeavour failed because of the torpedo bombers becoming” separated from the American dive-bombers and getting slaughtered”, they did manage to distract the enemy carriers long enough for the separated dive bombers to arrive (Prados 2009). These bombers were able to quickly turn the tide of the battle because they attacked the Japanese carriers while they were ” refueling and rearming their planes” (Prados, 2009).  According to John Kelly (2012), “Japanese carrier operations were disrupted by attacks in succession by Hornet’s torpedo planes, forcing the enemy to turn away from the wind, and then those from Enterprise” (Kelly, 2013). After this torpedo planes from Yorktown attempted to attack Hiryu but the Japanese carrier ended up coming out on top when its planes carried out devastating attacks on Yorktown, forcing its abandonment. However, the U.S. got its revenge when “Dive bombers from Enterprise, which included those orphaned by the damage to Yorktown, crippled Hiryu…”(Kelly, 2013).  By the end of the day the Japanese carriers Kaga and Soryu had sunk and the carriers Akagi and Hiryu would be scuttled (sunk by the Japanese) the next day. The Japanese also lost their heavy cruiser Mikuma in the battle.Unfortunately, the Americans did not win the battle without a carrier loss of their own. After the major fight, while Yorktown’s salvage crew attempted to save what remained of their ship, the Japanese submarine I-1698 was able to sneak close to Yorktown and deliver even more damage to the carrier with its torpedoes. It also managed to sink the destroyer Hammann that rested beside Yorktown. The salvage crew was forced to abandon Yorktown and it ended up sinking the next day (Kelly, 2013). Still, despite this loss, it looked as if all in all the Americans had come out victories and had dealt a crippling blow to the Japanese Navy.The battle of Midway was the most decisive naval battle in WWII. It acted as a major victory for the Americans and a crushing defeat for the Japanese. The battle single handedly managed to change the tide of the war in the Pacific and its outcome allowed the Americans and other Allies to “launch a counter-offensive” and quickly regain the land that Japan had taken ( “The Pacific Theatre,” 2010). It also showed that sometimes the underdog can come out on top. Without this extraordinary battle history may have took a very different turn.


I'm Neil!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out