|USS Yorktown CV-5, Aircraft Embarked, 29 May 1942
|Charles Westbrook Albright, ARM2c
||David Frederick Johnson, AMM2c
||ENS Phillip Walker Cobb
|William R. Anderson, AMM3c
||George Albert LaPlant, AMM2c
||ENS Robert Haines Benson
|Clifton R. Bassett, AOM2c
||Theodore Schevon, ARM3c
||ENS Milford Austin Merrill
|Harmon Donald Bennett, ARM2c
||Jack Alvan Shropshire, ARM3c
||ENS Raymond Morrow Reynolds
|David Donald Berg, ARM3c
||Leslie Alan Till, RM3c
||ENS Jack Rugen
|Dallas Joseph Bergeron, ARM3c
||Sidney Kay Weaver, ARM3c
||ENS Roy Maurice Isaman
|Frederick Paul Bergeron, ARM3c
||Clarence E. Zimmershead, ARM2c
||ENS Bunyon Randolph Cooner
|Charles C Brassel, AOM1c
||Grant Ulysses Dawn, ARM3c
||ENS Robert Martin Elder
|Duane John Chaffee, ARM3c
||LT(jg) Osborne Beeman Wiseman
||ENS Robert Keith Campbell
|Ray Edgar Coons, ARM1c
||LCDR Maxwell Franklin Leslie
||ENS Aldon W. Hansen
|Horace Henry Craig, AMM1c
||LT DeWitt Wood Shumway
||ENS Charles S. Lane
|William Earl Gallagher, ARM1c
||LT Harold Sydney Bottomley
||ENS John Clarence Butler
|Joseph Vernon Godfrey, ARM3c
||LT(jg) Gordon Alvin Sherwood
||ENS Paul Wahl Schlegel
|Jack Charles Henning, ARM2c
||LT(jg) Paul Algodte Holmberg
Battle Of Midway
March 1942 - 3rd June 1942
Japanese Battle Plan
Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Combined Japanese Fleet, was
stunned by the April 18, 1942 attack by 18 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, barrowed from the
Army Air Force, as they flew off the deck of the carrier Hornet, accompanied by the
Carrier Enterprise, at a distance of only 650 nautical miles from Japan. Led by Lt.-Col
James H. Doolittle, these bombers hit Tokyo, Yokosuka, and a score of other towns. They
did not inflicted material damage but they had severely shaken the Japanese morale.
If the Americans could hit Tokyo, they could also hit the Emperor's palace; that could
harm the Emperor. To Yamamoto, this situation had to be remedyed and that meant a decisive
battle. Ever since March, Yamamoto had been pressing to convince the Naval General Staff
that the planned attacks on Samoa and Fiji Islands had to be dropped in favor of an attack
on the Central Pacific island of Midway.
A battle scheme was set up by Yamamoto and his staff. The entire force of the Combined
Fleet would be sent across the Pacific to give battle to the US Pacific Fleet in the
waters around Midway. For that goal, Yamamoto's order of battle included most every
fighting unit that was not needed in tasks around the Empire.
Among the fleets were seven battleships, ten carriers, two dozen cruisers, and more
than seventy destroyers, dispersed among half a dozen fleets. Admiral Yamamoto would lead
the impressive Main Body, battleships Yamato, Nagato and Mutsu, the Imperial Japanese Navy
most powerful battleships. Support would come from the light carrier Hosho, and its eight
attack planes, they would be used for anti-submarine work. Destroyers would screen the
The powerful First Air Fleet. Under command of Vice-Admiral Nagumo Chuichi, For the
mission, all six of the heavy carriers would be available according to the plan. Two
battleships and two heavy cruisers plus a destroyer squadron would be forming the
protective circle around the carriers. This great assembly of naval units would be used in
deploying the Japanese plan.
The flagship of Admiral Nagumo,the heavy carrier Akagi. First, Hosogaya would strike
the US Naval facilities at Dutch Harbor, Aleutians, on June 3, in order to lure the US
carriers north to defend Alaska. This would be followed by an air strike from Nagumo's
carriers against Midway, which would destroy the US defenses there. Then, Nagumo would
take station in the area awaiting US naval forces. Following these carrier strikes, the
IJN's various seaplane tender and transport groups would occupy Attu and Kiska in the
Aleutians, Kure Island 60 miles north of Midway, and Midway itself. Then, with the Main
Body, and Kondo's support forces available for battle, the Japanese would sink the US Navy
if it appeared.
There also was the Aleutians Strike Force, commanded by Vice-Admiral Hosogaya Moshiro,
it consisted of a carrier force with the light carrier Ryujo, and the converted
cruise-liner and now-carrier Junyo. Four battleships, Ise, Hyuga, Fuso and Yamashiro would
be the far-cover for this operation, and an assortment of cruisers and destroyers would be
protecting both forces. Admiral Kondo Nobutake would be leading the Second Fleet, the
battleships Kongo and Haruna, and the light carrier Zuiho. His task would be to protect
the Invasion Force under Rear-Admiral Tanaka Raizo. A major force of destroyers and
cruisers would be available for screening.
Before all this, Yamamoto hoped to reduce the US forces with a tight submarine cordon,
to deploy by June 1st north-west of the Hawaiian Islands. This cordon would, sink as many
US ships as possible, thinning out the enemy for the final engagement with the Main Body.
This plan was presented to the Naval General Staff, and it was the plan Admiral Nagano,
Chief of the Naval General Staff, accepted and ordered on 5th May. By this time, changes
had taken effect. Since the Army was not convinced of the decisive nature of the future
battle at Midway, it had pursued its own plans.
Operation MO, the capture of Tulagi Island and Port Moresby, had been started under
the cover fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku. This was an important splitting of Admiral
Nagumo's carrier force, for it risked the availability of a third of the First Air Fleet.
Admiral Yamamoto had allowed these carriers to participate in MO, believing the
Americans to be morally beaten and incapable of mounting an operation outside his,
Yamamoto's, choosing. He was wrong; both Shokaku and Zuikaku, and the light carrier Shoho,
were put out of action at the Battle of the Coral Sea, 8th May 1942, because of US
US Combat Intelligence
Commander Joseph P. Rochefort was the commander of The Combat Intelligence Office (OP
20 02). Leading a team of trained professionals in mathematics, communications and
cryptology, Rochefort had broken the Japanese Naval Cipher, code named JN-25, before the
war had started and had been able read at least 10 percent of the Japanese Navy's radio
On paper, 10 percent did not amount to much useful information, but Rochefort was a
very talented man when it came to examining the value of the intercepted information. His
team had little chance to prove itself during February and March, when US carriers hit the
exposed island positions during the first carrier raids, but by late April, his
codebreakers were ready. Radio messages were intercepted and deciphered indicating
Japanese naval operations were to begin in the Coral Sea. Admiral Nimitz based his
deployments on the information collected by Rochefort and was ready for the Japanese at
the Battle of the Coral Sea.
The Combat Intelligence Office had its first important hit. Even while the Japanese
and American forces were battling for the Coral Sea, Rochefort's men, noticing a increase
in Japanese radio traffic, they discovered that a new operation was being planned, an
operation combining all fleet units that the Japanese could muster. The Intelligence
Office often cited a problem was that they had no clues to the target of the operation.
Their ability to put together the big picture helped convince them that the target,
codenamed "AF", must be Midway. They had yet to convince the superiors at Navy
Communications in Washington, D.C., namely Commander John Redman. For the latter was
convinced that if any target in the Pacific warranted this fleet, it was Hawaii.
Rochefort chose a trick. Utilizing the underwater telephone connection with Midway, he
asked that Midway transmit, via uncoded radio traffic, a message saying that the
desalination plant was out of order. The Japanese swallowed the bait, and when Rochefort's
men decoded another message thereafter, they were pleased to read that "AF has
problems with its de-salting plant". What Intelligence was finally able to provide
Nimitz with was eye opening. First, he knew that the main objective was Midway,
eliminating Admiral Yamamoto's deception at Dutch Harbor.
Second he knew of the submarine cordon, allowing him to place his forces prior to it's
installment, eliminating another part of Yamamoto's plan. Third, he could mass all ships,
lanes, and defensive measures on and around Midway, now he had no fear of their
operations. By the time of these discoveries, Nimitz had more information than he could
The Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown, since the sinking of Lexington Nimitz's only
carriers, were all out at sea until mid-May. Enterprise and Hornet arrived earlier than
Yorktown, which was damaged at the Coral Sea.
A problem-Vice-Admiral Halsey, a fearless Commander, Aircraft Carriers, Pacific Fleet,
was ill with a skin infection and it could not be helped. Halsey was brought into
hospital, where Admiral Nimitz questioned him regarding his replacement. Admiral Halsey
selected Rear-Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commander of the cruisers in Halsey's screen,
to lead the carriers into the most important battle in US history.
Nimitz accepted, not knowing he was turning the bad luck of Halsey's illness into a
great move for the US. Two days later, Admiral Fletcher aboard the damaged Yorktown,
arrived at Pearl Harbor. Being informed that the Yorktown would be out of action for at
least three weeks. Fletcher informed Nimitz, but Nimitz could not wait that long. He
ordered that every effort be made to put the carrier out again on May 30, in time to avoid
the submarine cordon.
With 1300 men working on her, Yorktown was in for a record repair, although not all
the work was completed. Admiral Nimitz had ordered Rear-Admiral Obert English, COMSUBPAC,
to deploy a submarine cordon of his own west of Midway, and another one north of Hawaii to
support a retreating fleet in case of a defeat at Midway. Furthermore, he had transferred
almost all available planes to Midway, and was still re-routing new arrivals to the tiny
atoll.Finally, on May 28th, Admiral Spruance on Enterprise departed with his two carriers.
One more of Yamamoto's plans was discovered and prevented. To assure that no enemy
carriers would be around Midway, Yamamoto's staff planned a reconnaissance flight of Emily
flying boats to Pearl Harbor from Wotje in the Marshall Islands. They would refuel from a
modified Japanese submarine at the French Frigate Shoals, an atoll more reefs than land.
But US planes had tracked the Japanese reconnaissance unit, and some quick thinking
revealed that the French Frigate Shoals were the only possible place where to fuel a
flying boat. When the submarine that was to fuel the Emily ordered to check Pearl Harbor
on June 1 arrived at the Shoals, it was disturbed to find them occupied by a US seaplane
tender group. The mission was abandoned. It would have been important enough - for the day
before, Yorktown, and thus the last of the three battle-ready groups, sortied. Though
still not 100% ready, Yorktown would be a valuable addition to the US forces.
On June 1st, Saratoga hurried out of San Diego, hoping to arrive at Midway in time to
join in the battle, but she did not make it. The day before, Captain Marc Mitscher of
Hornet had been promoted to Rear-Admiral.
On June 2nd, Fletcher in command and Spruance, meet for the first and last time during
the battle at "Point Luck".
June 3, 1942 The Aleutians were definitely not a great place for flight operations,
and Admiral Kakuta Kakuji was to find that out on June 3rd. His orders from Yamamoto were
to strike Dutch Harbor, a small harbor installation on the extreme end of Alaska. To meet
that goal, Kakuta had command over the light carrier Ryujo, his flagship, and the bigger,
converted carrier Junyo, and 82 planes. Bad weather hampered his operations since contact
with his force had to be maintained but could not be maintained - Ryujo, his flagship, was
alone until well after 0233, his launching time. Only when Junyo, his second carrier, came
in sight ten minutes later could Kakuta launch the battle's first air strike against a
strategically and tactically minor target.
His planes attacked Dutch Harbor under clear skies and damaged it badly. There were no
US heavy units in Dutch Harbor and, though the base was well maintained and well equipped,
and its damage severe, the entire point of the operation was lost thanks to US
Worse was still to come. A Zero, damaged during the raid, crashed on a small island
not far from Dutch Harbor, killing the pilot. A submarine could not locate the slightly
damaged plane, but the US did, revealing for the first time the negative points of the
Zero which eventually resulted in its defeat.
Several hundred kilometers to the south, fifteen minutes after the Japanese attackers
of Dutch Harbor had taken off, the pilots of the search planes flying from Midway atoll
were awaken and got their breakfast, and finally took off in search of the enemy fleet.
Shortly after 9 o'clock,
Rear-Admiral Tanaka Raizo's Invasion Force was sighted by Ensign Jack Reid of VP-44,
flying PBYs. He radioed the sighting report to Midway, without noting anything but speed
and course. After specifying ship types and numbers on orders from Midway, giving the base
a picture of the approaching enemy, he began following it for a while. His report allowed
a group of B-17 bombers from Midway to hit the transport force shortly after half
past four in the afternoon.
Without scoring damage, the bombers returned to Midway, and left the scene for a
daring attack by PBYs. Four of the slow planes took off from the atoll late in the
evening, seeking out the enemy transport force. Finding it an hour after midnight on June
4, they attacked with torpedoes and secured a hit on Akebono Maru, damaging the oiler
slightly, but failing to sink or stop her.
The US carriers had been stationed north of Midway, waiting for the enemy to appear,
and keeping track of the action and sighting reported. Fletcher brought Yorktown closer to
Midway in preparation for air operations. Action was close at hand.
June 4, 1942
On the Island of Midway at 0230 pilots and air crews were awakened and just
fifteen minutes later the units of the First Air Fleet, in preparations for the air
attacks that morning against Midway began at 0245 when pilots and air crews aboard the
flagship, Akagi, were awakened, At 0400 PBY Catalinas and F4F Wildcats from Midway had
already taken off, patrolling the area and the island. By 0430, the first airplanes
started lifting off for their first air strike of the day, 108 planes from all four
carriers this time. Half an hour earlier, Scouts were launched from the Japanese carriers
prior to the attack, but too few: one Kate each from Akagi and Kaga, supplemented only by
two catapult planes from Tone and two from Chikuma, and a smaller scout from Haruna.
Tone's No.4 catapult plane would not launch in time due to a malfunction and Admiral
Nagumo did not send out a replacement as he could have should done.
The strike force, closed on Midway, and appeared shortly before 0600 on
the radar at t Midway. Midway's base commander launched all available planes, including
the twenty-seven fighters led by Marine Major Floyd B. "Red" Parks, which would
jump the enemy bombers on their run in. Six Avenger torpedo-bombers, four Army Marauder
medium bombers, eleven Marine Vindicator dive-bombers and sixteen Douglas Dauntlesses, and
a total of nineteen B-17 bombers, augmented the rest of the 32 total
Major Park's pilots and their planes in both numbers and quality were
not ready to engage this enemy. They were to early and failed to get into the bombers
quickly, owing to the escorting Zero fighters. Of the intercepting fighters, 15 were shot
down, and the fighters were unable to protect Midway from air attack, which task was now
left to the air defense units. Total Japanese losses over Midway and before were around
fifteen planes shot down and thirty-two damaged. In exchange, the Japanese, without
any planes to bomb, hit the facilities on Sand and Easter Island, and left both islands on
fire, having destroyed fuel tanks, the hospital, storehouses, and seaplane
Even before the Japanese planes attacked Midway, Nagumo's carrier lost
their most important defense when Lt. Howard Ady, piloting a PBY Catalina spotted them.
Ady immediately broadcast the sighting report, which was received at 0553 by USS
Enterprise, Yorktown, and Intelligence back at Pearl Harbor.
US flattops waited on. But Nagumo's carriers would see their very first
action. On Midway Lt. Langdon K. Fieberling led six VT-8 Avengers, re-routed to Midway
when they had been unable to catch up with their mother ship, the Hornet, Midway's planes
took off with orders to attack the enemy carriers along with four B-26 Marauder bombers
They flew into the fray of AA and Japanese Fighters as the first US attack group. And
above them, old Vindicator dive-bombers, SDB Dauntlesses, and B-17 level bombers
approached for their attacks.
Fieberling's planes attacked first at 0700, but there was no way around
the Zero fighters, much less away through them. Four Avengers fell even before they were
able to release their torpedoes. The other planes continued, but three more fell to AA,
and the rest, an Avenger and two Marauders, scoring no hits, retired damaged to
Nagumo, watching the attack from his flagship's bridge, was not
impressed with the ability of the of the US pilots, but he felt that they might indeed
prove what Lt. Tomonaga Joichi of the Midway strike force had stated: a second attack was
Unknown to Nagumo, his fate was being sealed. Admiral Spruance, his
flagship Enterprise having intercepted the report from Ady, had been steaming toward the
enemy to reduce the range. When the Japanese planes left the air space over Midway at
around 7 o'clock, quick calculations made it clear that if the US carriers launched
immediately, they would probably hit the Japanese carriers with planes loaded on the deck,
a most vulnerable condition. Accordingly, both carriers launched their planes between 0700
and 0755, full deckloads of bombers with a fighter escort. Twenty minutes past seven,
Spruance ordered the new Rear-Admiral Mitscher to take Hornet and an escort and maneuver
Nagumo's ships underwent more attacks in rapid succession, first Major
Loften Henderson's Marine Dauntlesses, then B-17s from the Army, and finally the
Vindicators. None scored a single hit, but the more planes attacked, the more
convinced was Nagumo that a second strike was needed against Midway. Already at 0715,
Nagumo had ordered to arm his ready planes with bombs instead of torpedoes. But by
0730, Tone's No. 4 scout had radioed Nagumo that there were "ten enemy surface
ships" in the vicinity. Though worried about the unplanned presence of this
force, Nagumo regarded the Midway forces as the main threat and continued the
Nagumo was greatly hampered by the incapable crew of Tone No.4, which
took an hour to find out what it had really sighted, the Yorktown group. Only by 0820 did
the plane inform Nagumo that the force included "what appears to be a carrier".
Nagumo now had to worry but didn't for too long, and soon ordered armament changed back to
torpedoes. Only half of the Japanese planes were affected, for only half of them had been
loaded with bombs after the first of Nagumo's rearm orders had been given. Due to
the time pressure, however, bombs were not being properly stored. The Japanese carriers
slowly became floating, unprotected arsenals.
By 0830, the final Midway-based attack against Nagumo's forces had been
made, and a mere nine minutes later, Lt. Tomonaga's Midway group arrived overhead and
commenced landing. Though interrupted once by a false report of US torpedo planes, Nagumo
successfully landed Tomonaga's group, and turned his forces toward the enemy by 0917. Only
a minute later, however, Nagumo saw himself faced once again with enemy torpedo planes.
It was VT-8 from Hornet, under the command of Lt.Cmdr. John C. Waldron.
His planes were old, slow, and sluggish TBD Devastators, once the finest plane in the
fleet ,but after seven years it had become a deathtrap., Waldron had trained his pilots to
the last - and, before the battle, suggested to them that they should write a letter to
their families. This brave but hopelessly outnumbered
force approached Admiral Nagumo's carriers. Zeros were soon between them, and no single
plane survived the massacre, as the Devastators approached in the "low and slow"
manner necessary for them to conduct a successful attack, an approach forced upon the men
by their torpedo load, the Mk13. Only one of the pilots, Ensign George Gay, survived, and
was picked up alive by a PBY the next day.
Midway Memorial Dedication,
Aug. 31, 1995.
Today, Aug. 31,1995 a flight will return to the grave of the
grand carrier Yorktown, and there, the crew will leave a wreath along with our prayers and
our eternal gratitude. There, too, they will return to his shipmates the ashes and spirit
of George Gay to be with the members of his torpedo squadron from Hornet. He alone
survived the battle. Today, he rejoins his comrades.
From his ringside "seat", Gay was able to watch another torpedo
squadron, Lt.Cmdr. Eugene Lindsey's VT-6 from Enterprise, make its attack. His squadron,
fourteen planes were flown by experienced pilots - Hornet's pilots had been trained but
never seen combat, while VT-6 was a veteran of the early Fast Carrier raids. Lindsey's
force came in right toward the enemy carriers, and they went right after the Kaga as
their target. The Japanese flattop fought them off very well, helped by the Zeros of the
combat air patrol, and was not hit in the end. This time, ten Devastators had fallen into
the sea, including Lindsey's. The engagement was not over for a minute when Akagi spotted
another torpedo squadron coming in, this time VT-3 from Yorktown, under the command
of Lt.-Cmdr. Lance Massey, the only squadron that had a fighter cover with it, Lt-Cmdr.
Jimmy Thatch's six F4F-4 Wildcats, and was as combat trained as humanly possible. It was
not enough to protect these last brave torpedo-bomber pilots of the battle. Thatch's, Wildcats were caught up in a dogfight with Zeros. Soryu's Zeros went
for the Devastators, and soon, more of the Zeros came in after Masseys torpedo
bombers. Massey's fliers concentrated on Hiryu, but missed - only two planes
returned to the US fleet.
VT-6 on the deck of Enterprise, prior to launch at Midway.
McCluckey on his own, decided to head north-west, assuming the Japanese would not
continue their course toward Midway, and seven minutes later, at 0955, had sighted the
thin white trail of the destroyer Arashii, which had been planting depth-charges into the
water to prosecute the US submarine Nautilus, which had been in the Japanese formation for
some time without being able to score a torpedo hit. Now, the Arashii followed her fleet
McCluskey's "Dauntless flight "followed the direction of the IJN
and soon, the First Air Fleet came into sight. McCluskey had before him a mess of ships.
The evasive maneuvers of the flattops had thrown them out of order, and then reduced their
support for each other - which had been thin enough from the onset.
McCluskey divided his force into the two forces, ordering Lt. Richard Best of VB-6 to
strike the starboard carrier, Akagi, while he himself led Lt. Earl Gallaher's VS-6 down on
Kaga. The Japanese were not impressed. They had seen these dive-bombers before and had not
been hit. Their own opinions on torpedo-bombers gave them the feeling that dive-bombers
were not the weapon to sink major warships. But they were not warships at this
time; they were a floating time bomb. Bombs were lying around, and fueled planes loaded
with arms and were in place for Nagumo's strike against the enemy fleet.
McCluskey's attack on Kaga was perfectly executed. While the his own bomb missed, Lt.
Gallaher planted his bomb right on the parked planes on the after section of the flight
deck, setting afire the flight deck. Shortly thereafter, another bomb penetrated the
forward elevator, exploded among the planes fueled and armed on the hangar deck, and
shattered the bridge windows, opening them for bomb number three, which exploded a
fuel truck in front of bridge.
The next explosion killed the captain and bridge officers, leaving the ship helmless .
The last bomb hit exploded in the hanger, adding to the carnage. The fires were soon
out of control, and by 1700, abandon ship was sounded.
Akagi was not hit by as many bombs, but the results were the same. The first bomb
struck the carrier on the midship elevator, exploding ammunitions that had not been
stored properly, this was the first step to disaster. The second struck the planes
being rearmed, detonating whatever ammunition was loaded on them. The aft magazines could
not be flooded, and even CO2 could not extinguish the hangar deck fires. The engines lost
power at 1040, and Admiral Nagumo left his burning command at 1046. Abandon ship was
sounded, little personnel remained at 1900, and Captain Aoki was removed from the
carrier the last person to leave at 0300 June 5th.
Soryu's was being attacked by Lt.-Cmdr. Maxwell Leslie of Yorktown, head of VB-3,
which Lt. O.B.Wiseman was attached to, it was ill fated . The SBDs were equipped with what
a computer user would call a "buggy" electronic arming mechanism, resulting in
the loss of Lt .Maxwell's bomb and that of three of his pilots. With only thirteen
bombs, the flight continued.
Leslie's gunner sighted the Carrier Force at 1005, and Leslie quickly chose a large
carrier he identified as Kaga as his unit's target. It was actually the Soryu but a nice
prize nevertheless. Leslie dove down on the carrier ahead of his squadron at around
1025, raking the AA emplacements and the flight-deck with his forward-mounted .50 caliber
guns - his only means of attack until they jammed.
Soryu was struck by three bombs, neatly placed from fore to aft, exploding near all
elevators, destroying all planes and ammunition stored on and beside the planes, and was
out of the action by 1040, ten minutes after the last Yorktown planes had pulled
up. Five minutes later, abandon ship was sounded, and Captain Yanagimoto committed suicide
by plunging into the raging fires.
Attempts to keep her afloat were made, but shortly after 1920, she finally slid into
her watery grave.
From the DEPARTMENT OF THE
Battle of Midway: 4-7 June 1942, Online Action Reports: Commanding
Officer, USS Yorktown, of 18 June 1942
At 1145 all three squadrons were rendezvoused and the group took the
following formation: VT-3 at 1500 feet (just below the cloud base), 2 VF for low coverage
at 2500 feet, 4 VF at 5000-6000 feet to protect the VT and low VF, and VB-3 at 16,000
feet. At about 1200, the enemy force was sighted bearing 345°, distance 30-40 miles,
headed on an easterly course, speed about 20 knots. It consisted of 3 or 4 carriers, 2
BB's, 4 CA's, 1 or more CL's and many DD. The formation appeared scattered; apparently the
CV's had just previously landed their planes on board after their attack on Midway Island.
Insofar as could be seen, the enemy CV's appeared undamaged. At about 1220 VB-3 lost
contact with the torpedo planes and was unable to communicate with them by radio. At 1225,
the order to attack was given by VB-3.
Dive Bombing Attack.
The dive bombing attack group consisted of 17 SBD's of VB-3, each armed
with 1-1000 pound bomb, fused with Mk 21 and 23 fuses. At about 1220, VB-3 was in position
to attack the enemy CV, located to the North Eastward in the formation. The dive bombers
commenced their approach from 14,500 feet out of the sun upon a large CV believed to be of
the Akagi Class. Its flight deck was covered with planes spotted aft. Upon sighting
our aircraft, the CV turned right to a Southerly course in order to launch planes. The
sides of the carrier turned into a veritable ring of flame as the enemy commenced firing
small caliber and anti-aircraft guns. There was no fighter opposition at altitude. The
attack signal was executed and individual planes of VF-3 took interval for diving as the
first enemy planes was being launched. Diving from the South, all pilots had a steady dive
along the fore and aft line of the target. The first bomb exploded directly in the midst
of the spotted planes, turning the after part of the flight deck into a sheet of flame. A
fighter was blown over the side as it was being launched. Five direct hits and three very
near misses were scored immediately thereafter. 3-B-14 and 3-B-15 upon seeing the carrier
so heavily hit and burning furiously, shifted their dives to the light cruiser plane
guard, scoring a near miss and hit on the fantail. 3-B-12 and 3-B-16
LT(jg) Osborne Beeman Wiseman and Grant Ulysses Dawn, ARM3c
likewise shifted to a nearby battleship and scored a direct hit on the stern and a near
Release altitudes averaged 2,500 feet and withdrawal was made to the
Northeast with radical maneuvering at high speed close to the water amidst heavy
anti-aircraft fire. On retirement, 3-B-8 reported being attacked by a twin-float bi-plane,
possibly a Kawanishi 95 with no damage resulting.
The carrier was an inferno of flames and undoubtedly a total loss, the
battleship was smoking from the stern, the light cruiser attacked was stopped and had
settled slightly by the stern, but was not afire.
All Bombing Squadron Three aircraft returned undamaged to U.S.S. Yorktown
by 1315. Two of our torpedo planes were also observed returning. At 1407 while in the
landing circle the Yorktown directed over voice radio that all planes get clear as
she was about to be attacked. As the squadron had broken up into sections for landing,
section leaders took their sections Eastward into the area midway between Task Force 17
and Task Force 16 to await the completion of the attack. Jettisoned enemy bombs were
observed falling well clear of surface vessels and several Japanese planes fell in flames.
When the attack on the Yorktown was completed, all section leaders
took their sections over to Task Force 16 and landed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise
except for two planes which landed in the water due to lack of fuel. The pilots and rear
seat men were rescued uninjured by a CA.
June 4,1942 Yorktown is hit and Planes from Yorktown have to land on Enterprise. At
1437-1438 Landed 5-B-3 and 5-B-16 (Yorktown planes). Yorktown pilot reported
Yorktown in bad shape. Heavy smoke seen from Yorktown. B-16 was
Lt.Wisemans plane. (This report was from the USS Enterprise.)
The CV attacked was described as being larger but narrower than the Yorktown
and having a full length flight deck with a small island about 1/3 of the length aft of
the bow. It had vertical smokestacks encased in one (similar to the Saratoga) on
the starboard side adjoining the island. While proceeding towards the objective, four
bombs were released prematurely when the gun and bomb electrical switches were turned on.
This squadron reported also that the windshields and telescopes fogged up during the dive.
This serious defect has been previously reported. It is estimated that VB-3 obtained at
least 7 bomb hits which resulted in either the sinking or disablement of the CV as it was
left dead in the water and completely aflame, and the damaging of 1 BB and CL.
However, victory was not complete. Rear-Admiral Yamaguchi Tamon, COMCARDIV2, had seen
his command reduced to half with the hits on Soryu, and was determined to pay it
back to the US. His ship, Hiryu, was completely intact except for the losses her
air group had taken in the attack on Midway. Hiryu had become separated from the
rest of the fleet during the torpedo attacks, and anyway, no planes would have been
available to hit her. Now, Hiryu and her fighting admiral assumed virtual command
over the rest of the force. Actually, Rear-Admiral Abe Hiroaki, commander of Nagumo's
screen, was the senior officer present, and he issued, at 1050, Yamaguchi his orders:
attack the enemy carrier - Immediately!
Lt. Kobayashi Michio took off at the head of eighteen divebombers and six fighters
trailing the Yorktown group, and at 1140, Japanese fliers sighted TF17, while Yorktown's
radar located the incoming strike. Yorktown's condition was completely different
from the Japanese carriers. No ammo was lying around, no fueled planes aboard her, besides
the immediately scrambling fighters - even her aviation fuel lines were secured by the use
of CO2 in them. Fighters jumped the enemy planes fifteen miles out, and eight
Vals, as the Allies called the Aichi D3A dive-bomber, fell, along with two more to the
thick flak fire. But eight penetrated, including Kobayashi's plane, scoring an impressive
Although no immediate danger to the carrier resulted, her speed was temporarily
reduced to a mere six knots. Once again, Yorktown's crack damage control saved
their ship, soon bringing it up to twenty knots. Fighters were landed, and anew combat air
patrol launched. But Yorktown, as the only target for Yamaguchi's bombers, was not
spared a second attack. This time it was a flight of ten Kate torpedo planes, which, due
to space and time restrictions, had not been able to take part in the first attack.
The Yorktown wounded and sinking at the Battle of Midway
Elliott Buckmaster, a good positive score on his side in the Coral Sea battle, where
he had successfully evaded all torpedoes, was now faced with a grim situation he could not
master. Two torpedoes (six torpedo-planes had been lost on the approach despite a six
plane escort) struck Yorktown, and her increasing list, seemingly unstoppable, left
Buckmaster with no choice but to abandon his ship. At 1500, he ordered the crew to do just
that. Yorktown would be left on her own. Yamaguchi on Hiryu would not be
able to entertain himself with his success.
At 1450, a US scout had found him, and ten minutes later, Lt. Gallaher from Enterprise
set off to bag his second carrier of the day. Lt. Wiseman was now flying from the
Enterprise as the Yorktown had been hit and unable to land aircraft. Lt. Wiseman was
transfered to the Enterprise. It was at this battle that Lt.
O.B.Wiseman and his gunner Grant Ulysses Dawn, ARM3c
were shot down. Thirteen dive-bombers struck the carrier as her pilots were eating, while
eleven more attacked battleships in the screen - a foolish maneuver, to split one's
bombers and go after such minor targets as a battleship in the presence of a carrier, but
fortunately not resulting in disaster, for four bombs of Gallaher's group struck in rapid
succession, completely destroying the flight deck, and setting the hangar deck aflame. But
no bomb penetrated deeply - Hiryu still made 30 knots after the attack. She was
immediately surrounded by ships lending hoses and spraying the ship, whose fire-fighting
equipment had But the fires were not containable. They spread below, and terminated
the brave engine crews, stopping the ship. The crew abandoned the ship starting 0315 on
June 5th, but not so Admiral Yamaguchi and Captain Kaku, who both committed suicide on
5th/6th June 1942
The coming of the evening of June 4th saw five carriers bobbing, four burning, and all
abandoned. But while the Japanese carriers were clearly unsalvageable, the Yorktown was
not. Fletcher, now aboard the Heavy Cruiser Astoria, had set off to join Spruance, but the
destroyer Hughes remained near the carrier and reported that chances were she could be
saved. Fletcher ordered the tug Vireo from the French Frigate Shoals to tow her to Pearl,
later joined by destroyer Gwin, and sent three more destroyers from the screen around
Enterprise to get a salvage party aboard the ship. Captain Buckmaster was with these men
as they boarded the Yorktown, and slowly, the carrier was towed toward Pearl Harbor. She
was not to make it.
USS YORKTOWN CA 5 AT THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY
Admiral Yamamoto had ordered the submarine I-168 to go after the carrier, and it
did, sinking it under of the protection of four destroyers as well as the destroyer Hammann
alongside her. The 5th of June was the day of the submarine, indeed. Admiral Yamamoto,
in a rather foolish attempt to gain at least something, ordered Admiral Kondo to bombard
Midway. Admiral Kondo in turn gave the same order to Admiral Kurita Takeo, commanding the
youngest and fastest cruiser division in the IJN. These ships, however, had not yet
reached Midway when, at 0020, Yamamoto's order to turn back was received, and as they
complied,they maneuvered themselves into more trouble. Submarine Tambor had sighted
them earlier, and shortly after 0100, a submarine was sighted by Kurita's Kumano
which Kurita tried to evade by an emergency, simultaneous turn by 45 degrees of all his
But while executing this maneuver, Mogami and Mikuma, two of his heavy
cruisers, collided. At day break, the two cruisers were, protected by two destroyers,
slowly making way out of Midway's range. But they were too slow, and Kurita's order to
have Mikuma stand by her sister now endangered both vessels. Midway SBDs and
Vindicators began their attacks at 0745, scoring no hits, but probably a plane crashed on Mikuma.
B-17s followed, scoring nothing but the heavy cruisers were slowed down and by the
next day, planes from Enterprise and Hornet found the enemy and struck
repeatedly, sinking Mikuma and knocking Mogami out of the war for a year.
Over the 5th and 6th June, Yamamoto had pondered about commiting his remaining forces
to a night surface action but had dropped this idea for fear of the risk he would be
running. Rightly so: Admiral Spruance, whom Fletcher had given command after the loss of Yorktown,
headed east in the night, knowing that a night surface battle - any surface battle - was
Yamamoto's fleet retired. Attu and Kiska had been taken but at what cost! Four heavy
carriers, one heavy cruiser, one hundred pilots, 3400 sailors, three experienced carrier
skippers and a carrier admiral, plus the secrets of the Zero fighter. In exchange, the IJN
had sunk a carrier and a destroyer, and destroyed around 150 planes. It was nothing short
of a disaster into which Yamamoto had led his fleet and he was only right in claiming
responsibility for this operation and its losses. Both fleets returned to their ports to
think about their lessons at Midway. History's greatest naval battle was over. The United
States had won.
The Battle of Midway was the most decisive single naval battle in US
history. The battle left two heavy Japanese carriers against four US carriers, and cost
the Japanese the pilots of a full year of training. Furthermore, the Japanese Navy lost
the secret of its Zero fighter, leading to the development of the F6F Hellcat, which
would, just a year later, begin to destroy Japanese air supremacy.
The Battle of Midway enabled the US Navy to go onto the offensive. Herein lay the
importance of the battle. For this is where I think people are wrong when they say that
the loss of the battle would not have been a too important event. If the US had indeed
lost all three carriers at Midway there would have been merely three carriers to oppose
any Japanese move - none of which was a really good ship. Saratoga was old and slow
in maneuvering, Wasp small and with a small complement of planes, and Ranger slow
and small as well as ill protected. None of these carriers could hope to last in a battle
with the Japanese carrier fleet which would allow the Japanese to prosecute several goals:
construction of airfields on Guadalcanal; invasion of Port Moresby; invasion of New
Caledonia; and more. The battle of Midway reversed this. The Japanese could never again
operate offensively, while the US could do so at a place of their own choosing.
|Carrier Strike Force
CV Akagi (+)
CV Kaga (+)
CV Hiryu (+)
CV Soryu (+)
2 Heavy Cruisers
1 Light cruiser
(Admiral Raymond Spruance):
5 Heavy Cruisers
1 Light Cruiser
|Close Support, Midway Bombardment Group
CA Mogami (O*)
CA Mikuma (+)
(Admiral Frank Fletcher):
CV-5 Yorktown (+)
2 Heavy Cruisers
6 Destroyers (Hammann +)
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