History of the Second World War, Volume 3

0918 hrs Turning-point of the Pacific War At the end of May 1942 two task forces sail from Japan —one to attack the Aleutians and other to invade Midway Island. Admiral Nagur I Carrier Striking Force (Akagi Kaga Hiryu ar Soryu) covered the Midway invasion fleet, awhile powerful force of battleships lay to tl north waiting to engage the US fleet. But the Americans were forewarned and their Task Forces 16 (Hornet and Enterprise) and 17 (Yorktown) evaded the Japanese patrol scree and were cruising in a position to intercept t invasion fleet. 1. Japanese carrier aircraft bomb Midway Island. 2. Having recovered the Midway strike force, the Japanese fleet alters course toward the reported position of the approaching Americ carrier force. 3. This causes the first US strike to miss the Japanese. The US dive-bombers from Horne turn south and the torpedo-bombers from Enterprise north to search while the fighters out of fuel have to ditch. Without this fighte escort the bombers suffer heavy losses frorr Zeros. 4. The torpedo-bombers from Yorktown and Enterprise also locate the Japanese but without fighter support they too are massacred without damaging the enemy. 5. However the dive-bombers having turned north arrive overhead unseen and in five minutes they cripple Kaga Akagi and Soryu. 6. A force of dive-bombers from the Hiryu locate and damage the Yorktown. A second strike of torpedo-bombers cripple her so tha she is abandoned. Ostensibly the Japanese thrust toward Midway Island and the Aleutians was to extend their defence serimeter so that there would be adequate warning of any US attack. But for Admiral Yamamoto twas the chance to complete Pearl Harbor—the remainder of the US fleet would be destroyed before reinforcements could reach it. But his planning had two vital defects: first it was jvercom plicated-w ith too many units unable to support each other and second in spite of his jdvocacy of carrier-borne airpower and the massive successes it had brought Japan Yamamoto till saw his lurking battleship force as the vital unit which would intervene to destroy the \mericans once they had been lured forward by the invasion fleets. But the Americans were orewarned and realised the trap which was being set. Their forces evaded the enemy patrols and disappeared into the Pacific to intercept and destroy the Japanese I Carrier Striking Force and vithdraw before Yamamoto's battle fleet could get anywhere near them. A Admiral Nimitz, C-in-C US Pacific Fleet, foresaw the enemy moves. Rear-Admiral Spruance (left) Task Force 17 evaded the Japanese trap. Left: Vice-Admiral Fletcher: his flagship Yorktown was the main US loss A Admiral Yamamoto, C-in-C Japanese Combined Fleet: his plan was too complex. Admiral Kondo (right): his Midway support force never saw action. Right: Vice-Admiral Nagumo (I Carrier Striking Force): his vacillation was fatal Japanese ships Japanese planes I American ships American planes 110616 hrs mam ¦111
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