The Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway

November 12, 2019

One of Japan’s main goals during World War II was to remove the United States as a Pacific power in order to gain territory in east Asia and the southwest Pacific islands. Japan hoped to defeat the US Pacific Fleet and use Midway as a base to attack Pearl Harbor, securing dominance in the region and then forcing a negotiated peace. 

Primary Image: The USS Yorktown is hit on the port side by a torpedo launched from a plane off the Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. (Image: National Archives and Records Administration, 80-G-414423.)

One of Japan’s main goals during World War II was to remove the United States as a Pacific power in order to gain territory in east Asia and the southwest Pacific islands. Japan hoped to defeat the US Pacific Fleet and use Midway as a base to attack Pearl Harbor, securing dominance in the region and then forcing a negotiated peace. 

BREAKING THE CODE

The United States was aware that the Japanese were planning an attack in the Pacific (on a location the Japanese code-named “AF”) because Navy cryptanalysts had begun breaking Japanese communication codes in early 1942. The attack location and time were confirmed when the American base at Midway sent out a false message that it was short of fresh water. Japan then sent a message that “AF” was short of fresh water, confirming that the location for the attack was the base at Midway. Station Hypo (where the cryptanalysts were based in Hawaii) was able to also give the date (June 4 or 5) and the order of battle of the Imperial Japanese Navy. 

THE BATTLE

Early on the morning of June 4, aircraft from four Japanese aircraft carriers attacked and severely damaged the US base on Midway. Unbeknownst to the Japanese, the US carrier forces were just to the east of the island and ready for battle. After their initial attacks, the Japanese aircraft headed back to their carriers to rearm and refuel. While the aircraft were returning, the Japanese navy became aware of the presence of US naval forces in the area. 

Here’s a video to help explain the course of the battle taken from a history channel documentary series

Read more at: https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/battle-midway

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