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Splendid preparation and planning allowed the Japanese armed forces to achieve their initial goals. This made them ambitious and soon they were confronted with the problem of what to do next. They became optimistic and decided that the offensive had to be retained which provoked to advance toward Australia. 2. This South Pacific advance was further emphasised when the Doolittle raid took
place on 18 April 1942. On that day 16 specially equipped B-25 AAF Bombers under the command of Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle made a raid on Tokyo. Though the fly was from a US Carrier but the Japanese believed that these aircraft came from Midway. This atoll and the western Aleutians remaining in United States hands thus constituted a threat to the homeland, and the line of Japanese-held bases would have to be extended to include them. The Commander in Chief of Japanese Imperial Fleet Admiral Yamamoto had always favored a campaign to the east, and he hoped by such a movement to bring out the remainder of the United States Pacific Fleet to battle. After his success at Pearl Harbor, the Navy General Staff could refuse him nothing, and despite the southern advance an order to capture Midway. 3. As a result whirl of air strikes and counter strikes of devastating power combined
with series of events, characterized ‘Midway’ the most decisive battle of the Second World War, a battle, which in the span of fifteen minutes effectively brought to an end the Japanese mastery of the pacific. This is a naval battle that took place off midway island in the central pacific between the Japanese and American fleet on 4/5 June 1942. The island is situated almost in the centre of Hawaiian Islands and Japan. AIM 4. The aim of this paper is to analyse the Battle of Midway in historical context for
evaluating lessons learnt with contemporary validity. SCOPE 5. The scope of the presentation will be in the following sequence: a. b. Historical Background. Geographical Location.
Thailand and Malaya. f. e. Japan could not obtain oil or any other strategic raw material from outside countries. In 1942 the US navy started building an Air and Submarine bases in this Island. Force Comparison. Accordingly she launched a number of aircraft carriers and battle ships. Battle Preparation. Objectives. Lessons Learnt. Java. Outcome of the Battle. On 18 Apr 1942. GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 7. d. iron and steel raw materials were banned one by one by USA. British and the Dutch government as she did not comply with the demand of withdrawing from China. j. All Japanese assets in America were effectively frozen. Moreover. huge ammunition dumps. She also planned to attack and occupy the strategically important island Midway. Though the fly was from a US Carrier but the Japanese believed that these aircraft came from Midway. aviation fuel. During World War II. .c. seaplane hanger. h. g. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 6. Fleet Composition. lubricating oil. which were engaged in harassing and destroying Japanese Shipping. military airport and other vital military and naval stores and installations. lying only 2500 miles away from Tokyo. Midway Island lies 1300 miles NW of Honolulu in the Central Pacific Ocean and is an unincorporated island of the USA since 1859. Col. Japan then planned for a total war in the Far East. to capture the oil and mineral resources of the East Indies by invasion of Sumatra. At last the United States acted. k. Japan started building the navy on her own choice once the Naval Limitation Treaty (NLT) expired in Dec 1937. So Japan went for a war and struck American Fleet in Pearl harbour on 08 Dec 1941. James H. Doolittle made a raid on Tokyo. specially equipped B-25 AAF Bombers under the command of Lt. Battle Scenario Miracle at Midway Battle Analysis. Japanese forces occupied the whole Chinese coast mainly French possessions in Jul 1939. After 1935 USA started building vast fuel tanks. Japanese imports of aircraft and aircraft spares. the Island could be also used for air raid on Japan. They also planned to invade the Philippines by destroying the American air forces there with Carrier air attacks. the island became an important base for refuelling the American Submarines. l.
strengthens their positions and placed under water obstructions against possible amphibious landing. Eventually he was also very fast to execute his plan so that Nimitz would not get sufficient time to recover his shortcomings. Locate and destroy Japanese Carrier striking force in order to curb their Carrier superiority in the pacific. b. Battle Preparation of Yamamoto. Seizure of Midway as an advance air base to facilitate the early detection of enemy forces operating westward from the Hawaiian Islands. To defend strategically important Midway Island from Japanese invasion.OBJECTIVE OF THE BATTLE Japanese Objectives 8. He realised the importance of his Midway operation and immediately stared gathering his war tested flag officers. He sailed without two of his best Carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku. Within a short span of time Nimitz concentrated his Air. The Japanese objectives in the battle of Midway may be summarised as under: a. BATTLE PREPARATION 10. He also reinforced the Air Forces by bringing the Marine Air Group to full strength. He being in command concentrated most of the available naval assets for his great attempt. As the battle of Coral Sea ended with a draw. reinforced the Marine Battalion and Coast Artillery personnel. got damaged in the battle of Coral Sea as those were not ready. The American objectives in the battle of Midway may be summarised as under: a. Yamamoto adhered to the tentative schedule and as a result was deprived of 160 planes. Additional planes were also flown from Oahu. Nimitz personally visited Midway. American Objectives 9. He recalled Admiral Fletcher’s . Nimitz’s Preparation to defend Midway. Yamamoto got alarmed that the Americans were recovering very fast than he had anticipated. To draw out the US Pacific fleet so that it could be engaged and destroyed in decisive battle. b. Surface and Sub-surface craft in the vicinity of Midway. 11.
FLEET COMPOSITION Command and Control 12. On the other hand Nimitz regrouped his fleet into Task Force-17 and Task Force16.16 R Adm Spruance Task Force . just one day before the battle.task force to Honolulu. Being a marine engineer Nimitz inspected personally the condition of hull of the Carrier Yorktown which was damaged severely during the Battle of Coral Sea and ordered his men to have the Carrier ready with in next three days which otherwise would need at least 90 days. Yamamoto’s forces were divided into five separate and independent operational groups. the Yorktown.17 R Adm Fletcher Fig II : Command Structure of American Pacific . Nimitz gathered all of his forces in and around Midway Island with three Carriers. Finally by 02 June 1942. Command structure of both the fleets are given below: Japanese Combined Fleet C-in C Adm Yamamoto Main Force Adm Yamamoto First Carrier Striking Force V Adm Nagumo Midway Invasion Force V Adm Kondo Northern Force V Adm Hosogaya Advanced Force V Adm Komatsu American Pacific fleet C in C Adm Nimitz Task Force . In addition to the forces and planes ashore Nimitz had 25 of the latest Submarines commanded by Admiral English. Hornet and Enterprise. He stationed them on the anticipated line of approach of the enemy forces.
which was also the Northern Area Force. the strike was to be shifted on them. The Diversionary Force. On the night of 05 June 1942. Midway Island would be assaulted by 5000 troops of the Occupation Force and would be promptly used as a Japanese air base. The Main Body. But if a report of the presence of the US Naval units was received from submarines or reconnaissance planes. 5 RESTRICTED . The Japanese overall plans were: a. d. commanded by Admiral Yamamoto would move up and Kondo’s powerful second fleet would be utilised to either give a final blow to the US Pacific Fleet or to strike Midway Island if additional punch was required. c. was to open the battle by delivering a paralysing air bombardment on Dutch Harbour (Western Aleutians) on 03 Jun 1942 in order to confuse Nimitz. The Carrier Striking Force was to strike Midway. The exact figure of the fleet of both the forces took part in the Battle of Midway remains still unknown. b. However a fairly accurate forces are given below: Type of Ship Carrier Battleship Cruiser Destroyer Aircraft American Fleet 03 Nil 08 14 228 (Incl Midway) Japanese Fleet 08 11 23 65 332 Table III: Force Comparison between Japanese and American pacific Fleet Overall Japanese Plan 14.RESTRICTED FORCE COMPARISON 13.
Before the battle began. Admiral Nagumo launched his first strike of 108 aircraft against Midway Island at 0430. whereas the Japanese were by no means aware about the presence of any US carriers in the area. Their considerations were as follows: a. By nightfall the opposing carriers forces were approaching the island but neither of them aware of the other’s position. By dawn on 04 June 1942 they were only 428 miles apart. Eighteen planes were kept to cover twenty-one vessels including four carriers. Fleet. The successful breaking of Japanese communication Americans also had the advantage of radar system. THE BATTLE SCENARIO 16.RESTRICTED e. with the Americans to the east of the Japanese. It then came under serials of largely ineffectual attacks by American bombers from Midway. The Americans were sure that they were looking for the Japanese carriers. codes The Americans being inferior force emphasised more on intelligence enabled the Americans to take suitable counter measures. Each carrier kept certain number of bombers as a part of 6 RESTRICTED . gathering works. The Aleutian Support Force was to be detached from the Main Body to take station halfway between Midway to Aleutians and intercept any American Force that may come either way. b. American Considerations 15. 17. The Task Forces (TF 16 and TF 17) were operating near 320 miles The submarines and long range scouting planes were north east of Midway Islands in order to avoid early detection by the Japanese forces. which was the indication of the self-confidence for the Japanese to approach the Midway. TF 16 and TF 17 were in position 320 miles north deployed to acquire early information about the approaching Japanese east of Midway. The Americans were very keen to strengthen their defences around Midway Islands. On 03 June 1942 a Catalina flying boat sighted Admiral Kondo’s invasion force from some 800 miles west of Midway.
This was the last attack from Midway that morning. at 0748 Midway's dive-bombers started appearing. What this plane did not report were the ship types. Cdr. 19. He had 18 torpedo planes from Akagi. Admiral Nagumo received another message. ready to be launched as soon as the Midway strike was recovered. Lt. When Admiral Fletcher learned the whereabouts of the Japanese carriers he ordered Admiral Spruance in command of TF-16 to launch an attack. At 0728. and left lying all over the hangar deck causing a great fire hazard. 36 divebombers from Hiryu and Soryu. 18. for the first time. he learned from a floatplane that TF-16 sighted. Accordingly he ordered the aircraft held back to be rearmed for ground attack. Spruance decided to attack immediately in the hope of catching the Japanese carriers in the middle of recovering and refuelling the aircraft returning from Midway. At this point Nagumo made a fatal decision to further softening up the Midways defences. But he could not launch them before he recovered the planes that were coming back from Midway.RESTRICTED the second strike. ordered to rearm the aircraft to torpedoes for attacking the US fleet. No Japanese ships were even scratched. that the enemy carrier was sighted. and 12 Zeros from all four ships. 27 from the Kaga. Now Nagumo. 20. This involved sending the torpedoes to be replaced by bombs. The bombs were not returned to the storage aboard the Japanese carriers. but actually missed. McClusky did not find any Japanese carriers being in exact spot as the Japanese fleet changed the course in the meantime. or else they would all have to ditch. At 0820. As the report did not mention anything about the presence of two carriers. Nagumo remained undecided and ordered the remaining B5N torpedo. While the Japanese were changing bombs for torpedoes. just 14 minutes later. When the planes from the second wave were readied for attack on the US fleet those were on the flight deck fully fueled and armed. which would either go against Midway or be ready to deal with American fleet. Planes from the Midway strike were recovered by 0918 and the whole Japanese fleet changed its course to north east to close the American fleet. He made a right decision to go extra 35 miles towards southwesterly direction then turn northwest parallel 7 RESTRICTED . if sighted. After continuous dive over Japanese carriers the US pilots thought that they saw couple of hits.bombers to stop their rearming. Eight out of sixteen planes were lost in this action.
Tactically US forces were also in advantageous position. a destroyer that stayed behind to deal with US submarine Nautilus operating inside Japanese force. 22. Instead of seeking the enemy. Because the Midway was accommodating more planes than a Carrier and was an unsinkable platform. But it could not done in the time available and he finally conceded defeat early on 05 June 1942. US Consideration.RESTRICTED to the anticipated Japanese route. US remained defensive and employed typical tactics that the weaker force should follow. This caused the Hiryu to receive air attack from USS Enterprise and got wrecked until 0900 next morning. The strategy followed by both sides can be evaluated as shown below: 24. he followed the wake of Arashi. and about an hour later a second strike hit her with two torpedoes. At 1005 he saw the First Carrier Force which had no fighter protection. The Japanese wanted to go for decisive battle whereas the American remained defensive to attain their objectives. In a brilliantly executed attack. At about 1025 the four carriers were seen in a diamond formation. the Akagi with one 500 pounder and Soryu with three 1000 ponders. These hits inflicted terrible damage when Nagumo shifted to the undamaged Hiyu and continued strike against the American carriers. 8 RESTRICTED . the kaga was hit with 1000 pound bomb. the US forces kept on waiting in entrenched positions to take on enemy from advantageous locations. The strike succeeded in setting the Yorktown on fire. BATTLE ANALYSIS Evaluation of Strategy 23. At 0955. The Japanese intelligence gap became so crucial that the returning pilots reported sinking of a carrier meant the TF-16 and TF-17 had no carriers left. Nimitz had another strategic advantage over Yamamoto that the short distance from base to the scene of action. 21. Admiral Nimitz used Midway Island as an unsinkable carrier and he allowed the enemy to close within the striking range of Midway’s defence. Admiral Yamamoto was stunned by the news of the loss of all four carriers and tried to concentrate his scattered forces for a second attempt to bring the Americans to battle on his own terms.
The great difficulty that Yamamoto first faced was the failure to concentrate his Carriers including the light ones. Various Operations and Evaluation of Tactics 26. b. f. Some of them are enumerated below: a.RESTRICTED Moreover the newly installed search Radar would provide them better surveillance capability around Midway Islands. Japan was convinced that Americans would get tired of defeat and allow the Japanese to hold control up to Far East. Surface Engagement. Submarine Operation. Anti Air Warfare. Air Reconnaissance. He totally underestimated the US Pacific Fleet and ignored even the likely availability of Carriers at its disposal. Thus the US Pilots could 9 RESTRICTED . Carrier Battle. He could have concentrated his heavy Carriers in one place and deployed the scattered light Carriers for air reconnaissance mission. US Fleet Considerations. Yamamoto planned to achieve surprise but perhaps did not expect any opposition. Application of C3I Aspects 27. Both the fleets carried out various naval operations in this battle. This was primarily due to the unawareness of the Japanese about the presence of the American Carriers. The strong C3I network including signal message analytical group allowed the Americans to know exactly what they need to do and when. Japanese Consideration. Shore Bombardment. e. The US estimation about the Japanese force disposition and plan to attack Midway on 04 June 1942 was found accurate. d. 25. The successful breaking of the Japanese codes by the US Combat Intelligence Unit on Pearl Harbour enabled the Americans to undertake appropriate tactics. The Japanese Navy was very much optimistic and thought for a “decisive battle” to enjoy victory over US forces. c. Moreover the powerful battle ships of the Main Body were never utilised. Accordingly they strengthened their defences around Midway Islands.
If the carriers would be fitted with radar. During the battle of Midway several ships were able to USS Yorktown. Adm Yamamoto severely failed to maintain the security about his plan. installed the same in their two battle ships. b. The weapon that the American had developed and the Japanese copied settled the issue. effective damage control. it would be the valuable assets in decisive battle because that would provide effective deployment of fighters. The newly installed shore based search radar provided the Americans better surveillance capability around Midway Island. 28. NBCD. This ultimately put the Japanese into a great disadvantageous position. Although Japanese had the skill in operating and application of the technology. The Japanese also felt the importance and accordingly. poor visibility and wide dispersion. Japanese Fleet Considerations. In view of the mentioned technological development we can deduce that it had a great impact in the battle. Due to bad weather. The technologies used in this particular war were splendid.RESTRICTED appreciably detect the Japanese Carriers and carried out successful bombing operation and neutralised all beforehand. Application of Principle of Wars 10 RESTRICTED . the Japanese had to go for radio communication. Radar. 30. the American obviously had the supremacy. Impact of New Weapon & Technology 29. after withstand severe beating and remain afloat. The Japanese Commander In Chief also communicated his intentions to his widely dispersed fleet by using radio-using code (JN 25) which was also used during attack on Pearl Harbour. The technologies used by the American and the Japanese and their impacts may be summarised as follows a. receiving severe hits from Japanese air strike was put back into action by The radar was effectively used during WWII.
33.RESTRICTED 31. Japanese continuous success prior to Midway campaign and superiority in force allowed them to maintain high morale. The participation of US Carriers was a surprise for the Japanese.Japanese had aim to capture the Midway island but they failed to maintain the aim because they had too many objectives and made too many assumptions. Americans high morale allowed them to make badly damaged USS Yorktown operational within 72 hrs which normal time would take more than 90 days. 34. Flexibility. With this flexible planning the whole battle turned towards Americans. On the other hand US had aim to safeguard the Midway Island from Japanese attack and they made it. Japanese planners made a most striking and On the fatal error in the way they dispersed their forces. Co-operation and Administration. Gathering of security information enhanced the morale of US forces. Other lessons learnt 11 RESTRICTED . Concentration of Force. On the other hand US commanders had flexibility which allowed Lt. 32. On the other hand Adm Nagumo had no command between the task forces which ultimately caused defeat to the Japanese. The Japanese lost surprise as the Americans were copying their signal messages. Surprise. Cdr Mc Clusky to find out Nagumos fleet on his own initiative. Maintenance of Morale. The morale of both sides was high during the battle. 35. Selection and Maintenance of the Aim. Nimitz later turned this as ‘ The most important decision of the battle”. As such they were not ready to think alternatively. other hand US being on the defensive posture concentrate maximum forces around Midway and thereby cause significant damage to the Japanese carriers. US had good command and control over the battle. Yamamoto had a plan to surprise the Americans by attacking Midway from various sides but Nimitz gave the real surprise. The Japanese commanders were very much strict and committed to their plan. The Japanese because of their wide dispersal could not concentrate their forces at the time of need. 36.
Japan being surrounded by sea. Command and Control. but also not given adequate hearing in deciding various policies. which gave advance warning of Japanese plans. While planning such complex operations no care was taken to ensure that there were no command and control ambiguities. Thus the Navy was not only dragged into war at a time least desired. especially in the event of communication failure. The damaged aircraft carrier Yorktown was repaired within 3 days indicates the motivation level of the workers. From the studies of the strategies adopted by both Japanese and the Americans in the Pacific. Motivation of Repair Force.RESTRICTED 37. Need for Reliable and Secure Communications. There were different groups with different missions in the grand battle of Midway on the Japanese side. 38. 40. 12 RESTRICTED . which was prosecuted by an American submarine. Importance of Luck. The Japanese codes were broken by US. During the battle there was no exchange of information between various components and command and control suffered due to bad communications equipment as well as lack of personal skills and training. This allowed the US to prepare for the even. naturally resorted to sea trade to augment its war efforts. 42. The battle of Midway proves how a motivated repair organisation can result into great surprises and victories. The Japanese force on a number of occasions had to break radio silence for communicating with each other due to poor visibility. 39. The American strike aircraft left carriers at different times and the strike waves were initially unable to locate the Japanese carriers. But the orders for the Navy in all these battles remained in support of Japanese Army’s land battle. 41. it was clear that both the sides were following the Mahanian concept of big battle. One of the Japanese destroyers was heading towards the carrier force. Met Conditions. The cloudy weather proved helpful to the American dive-bombers to remain conceals from the Japanese force enabling them to carry out the decisive strike successfully. The Japanese losing the battle with superior force indicates that the element of luck also play role in the battle. Lack of Policy Decisions. 43. Concentration of American Aircraft Strikes.
Within the Navy the Admiral had overpowering personality. concentrate American attacks. The scouting aircraft that first reported the This in turn enabled the American forces to gauge the approximate direction of the carrier force and presence of American force got delayed to take off by half an hour. It was their assigned task to work out the details of an operation and he rarely interfered with their judgement. Yamamoto displayed courage and command responsibility by abandoning the operation with inadequate carrier protection for his ships. He continued to believe in the supremacy of battle ships and thus relied heavily on the tactics mainly dependent on the battle ships. APPLICATION OF LEADERSHIP QUALITIES Real Admiral Spruance 45. Adm Yamamoto Isoroku was the C-in-C of the combined Naval Fleet. He was quick to realise his forces losing ground and did order withdrawal from the battle in time. The confusion created by incomplete reporting by a Japanese scout was mainly responsible for so many aircraft being caught in the process of role change with fuel lines. as the industrial might of America was far greater than Japan. His thinking was flexible and he was ready to consider new concepts. This in turn resulted in the delayed information for Nagumo. Admiral Yamamoto 46. He had always been asserting that a long war with the US would ultimately lead to defeat for the Japanese. which are the Once the tactics and strategy of an operation were ingredients of superior leadership. 44. Admiral Spruance possessed a vitality and intelligence. Delayed Scouting Report. He had clear vision of what the Japanese Navy could achieve in war with the US. Admiral Nimitz 13 RESTRICTED . decided. ammunition and keeping the aircraft in completely exposed condition.RESTRICTED American aircraft strike leader sighted this destroyer. he would issue a general order to subordinate commanders.
He successfully applied principles of war in the Midway campaign. At the end of the battle the losses incurred by both the forces are as follows: Lost Carrier Sunk Heavy cruiser Heavy Cruiser Wrecked Battle Ship Sunk Destroyer Sunk Aircraft Men Killed 50. The carriers and crafts could be replaced if time given but when most of the experienced plots had been killed it proved impossible to train a new generation and the Japanese carriers never again posed the threat that they had in Jun. 14 RESTRICTED . OUTCOME OF THE BATTLE 49. His aim was to move the scene of battle further from the countries he was defending and closer to the land of the foe. He had examined in depth the Japanese and US Navy and postulated the theory of a war in the Pacific before hand. IMPACT OF BATTLE OF MIDWAY IN WORLD WAR II 48. The battle of Midway was the turning pt in the 2nd world war. 1942. For the Japanese legends died at Midway. The first air fleet Yamamoto’s sword and pride of a nation had been broke. Japan 4 1 1 1 3 332 2500 USA 1 1 147 307 After the Battle of Midway Japan could not replace their pilots. Nimitz `greatness came to the fore in the first year of war in the Pacific. battle ships and ultimately lost their morale and lost their confidence in the Pacific battle.RESTRICTED 47. At the midway the United States seized the initiative of Japan and thus Japan could not conduct any successful offensive operations till the end of WW II. With scanty squadrons and pick up task forces he smashed a more powerful foe at Midway.
RESTRICTED LESSONS LEARNT 51. At one moment the Japanese dominated the Pacific Ocean but just after 15 minutes the control went on to the hand of American. Best defence can be act as good offensive for an inferior force. Security of communications is typical tasks but it plays a vital role in the war. g. Japanese lost their total control over pacific. f. e. Following lessons can be derived from the discussion of the Battle of Midway: a. d. j. Intelligence is the most important factor in the war. c. Assumption in war plan can give a surprise victory but it is not always applicable. 15 RESTRICTED . b. h. The Battle of Midway was one of the truly decisive battle of the history With defeat in Midway. Air superiority is essential for control of the war. There was no quicker or dramatic reversal of power in the history. Foresightedness in war is essential CONCLUSION 52. Over confidence in the war may lead any superior force to defeat the battle against an inferior force. Offensive action is not the only factor to win a war. Every plan should have alternative plan to meet the tactical situation.
In one blow the American wiped out the overwhelming Japanese superiority in Naval Air Strategy who possessed the largest carrier based air power in the world. 54. Despite of a superior fleet and gun power Yamamoto had to abandon the flight without firing a shot due to lack of air power. the responsibility lies with him. Although the Japanese fleet was superior. Admiral Yamamoto blamed the defeat on the failure of his advance screen of submarines to harass the Americans. but in fact. the most important factor in the Battle of Midway was the prompt and wide use of intelligence report by the US force. Moreover. Without the intelligence report Admiral Nimitz would not have known how to disperse his forces and Yamamoto’s plan might have well succeeded. The battle was really lost when Yamamoto first divided his striking forces and decided a highly complicated plan of attack based on his assumption.RESTRICTED 53. the American had the advantages of surprise. 16 RESTRICTED .