Battle For Midway
Posted 06 February 2011 - 04:06 AM
Posted 06 February 2011 - 05:18 AM
Posted 06 February 2011 - 05:47 AM
Posted 06 February 2011 - 04:21 PM
Spruance gave his second crucial command, to run toward the target quickly, as neutralizing an enemy carrier was the key to their own carriers' survival. He judged that the need to throw something at the enemy as soon as possible was greater than the need for a coordinated attack among the different types of aircraft (fighters, bombers, torpedo planes). (emphasis mine)
Later in the war, carrier stikes against Rubaul and Truk, for instance, were well coordinated and successful. Jon Parshall, co-author of Shattered Sword, also founded the CombinedFleet.com web site. More info on carriers strikes, is on that site.
First you need to enter the site, then go to, The Pac War in Maps.
Posted 06 February 2011 - 05:53 PM
Posted 06 February 2011 - 06:11 PM
Posted 06 February 2011 - 07:53 PM
I probably shouldn't address this from memory, but one reason why the groups got separated was a dispute about where the target would be. Waldron famously took his planes directly where he knew the Japanese were headed, and was right. Others followed their instructions more precisely and consequently had some searching to do. I think Ring usually gets the blame for this, but you can bet I've butchered the subject somewhat.
I think I remember reading the same thing, in America's Fighting Admirals, Touhy. If I remember right, the author had a very poor opinion of Ring throughout the war.
Posted 07 February 2011 - 09:05 PM
The American intention was to launch coordinated, full-deckload strikes. As noted Shattered Sword is an excellent source for why this didn't happen. I also recently read A Dawn Like Thunder, about Torpedo Squadron 8. This is highly critical of both Stanhope Ring and Marc Mitscher, then captain of Hornet; but it appears to be well researched, and the author states that his conclusions are supported by experts like Parshall & Tully and James Sawruk.
We should note that at this time USN carriers' operations were mainly directed by their own captain and air boss. Although Spruance's orders were to attack the Japanese carrier force sighted by our PBYs, in accordance with the overall plan for the battle, Mitscher and/or Ring determined the exact course their air group would follow - approximately west although the estimated intercept position for Nagumo's force was more SW. The theory seems to have been that there might be a second Japanese force. None of the sighting reports thus far had identified more than two Japanese carriers. US doctrine was for carriers to operate separately, and with little solid information, they suspected the enemy might do the same (Admiral Fletcher and his staff were also concerned and had dispatched a search N/NW from Yorktown) (turns out the Japanese had kept their fleet carriers together in all their operations to date).
The Mitscher/Ring premise would appear to be that:
There was a second Japanese force, and
It was in the area Ring was going to search, and
It had been missed by our PBYs, which of course is not impossible, and
That searching for this hypothetical force was a better investment than making sure to find and attack the one they knew about.
Waldron disagreed and, shortly after takeoff, broke his squadron off and headed, as it turned out, almost directly for the enemy.
One other oddity about Ring's search was that he flew directly to the "point of no return" so that he had to turn straight back and fly back to Hornet over the same area of sea he had already overflown. This contrasts with Wade McCluskey's scheme which included a 15-minute dogleg so as to search a different area on the inbound leg. Incidentally Hornet's fighters, both dive bomber squadrons, and his own wingman broke off before Ring himself turned back, hardly a Ringing endorsement of his leadership, at least according to ....Thunder.
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Posted 08 February 2011 - 12:55 PM
As sad as the destruction of all the torpedo planes occurred, this pulled the Japanese carrier air patrol down to sea level (the Japanese were more fearful of torpedo planes than dive bombers) thus leaving the SBD dive bombers all alone to attack. Five minutes later, 3 of Japan's aircraft carriers were sinking.
I like this thread. Midway is my favorite WWII battle. I read the Midway book in my elementary school library four times and it was the first book where I read 100 pages in a day.
Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:15 PM
Yorktown's airgroup was the most experienced, actually. At least VF-3, under Jimmy Thatch, was quite battle hardened. While it had been nominally ashore during Coral Sea, most of the pilots had been transferred to Fighting 2. When Fighting 3 was replenished just before Midway, most of the "new" pilots were from Yorktown's own VF-42. 16 of 27 pilots were veterans of Coral Sea. Further, Yorktown's CAG and air ops officer, Oscar Pederson and Murr Arnold, had worked out a departure method to coordinate strikes fairly well. They sent the SBDs aloft first, giving them time to climb and circle. The TBDs were sent up next, and headed straight for the target. The F4Fs took off last, and split into groups to escort their various charges. It gave the SBs time to climb and the TBs that needed head start.
Mistakes were made, of course, in part as a result from experience at Coral Sea. Because the TBDs had been almost completely unharassed at Coral Sea the various commanders decided to send the escorts primarily with the SBDs. But it's worth noting that Yorktown's was the only strike that coordinated more or less successfully. (Thatch's F4s dove in to distract the zeroes while the TBs were attacking, though they were so badly outnumbered it was nearly a moot point. VB-3 rolled over to attack Soryu just as VT-3 was completing their attack on Hiryu.)
Of course the Japanese CAP was quite poorly coordinated at both Coral Sea and Midway, so in both cases elements of the American attack broke through largely unengaged, but because of timing and local conditions it was the TBs at Coral Sea and the SBs at Midway. If the TBs at Coral Sea had had slightly more effective torpedoes the later course of the war might well have been quite different, as Shokaku might well have been lost.
And some slightly better strike coordination at Midway would surely have changed things for the better as well. That, in the end, was probably the key deficiency in US carrier experience. USN pilots were as good as any and much better than most, but it seems like coordination was learned only in combat.
Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:18 PM
It was far more than five minutes and the Zero's had plenty of rate of climb to get back into the thick of things.
Posted 04 February 2012 - 05:16 PM
Posted 04 February 2012 - 11:15 PM
Posted 05 February 2012 - 01:34 PM
Each carrier launched its own CAP, and precisely because they had so little control once airborne, they would often respond to a new attack by launching more fighters, which would also go straight for the threat. Most of their fighters swarmed all over the obvious target, little if anything was held in reserve.
- CTBurke likes this
Posted 06 February 2012 - 02:12 AM
Posted 14 February 2012 - 12:32 AM
Posted 14 February 2012 - 11:44 AM
Posted 14 February 2012 - 07:54 PM
There is a very good Documentary series called " Battlefield " that deals with the Battle of Midway , one of the aspects that they covered was the American's superority in Damage Control. U S S Yorktown took roughly the same damage as the Japanese carriers and they were left blazing hulks. Yet the American Carrier was able to put out the fires , and get their speed up to over 20 knts retrive and launch planes so that by the time of the second Japanese attack they thought they were attacking a different ship . It took torpedoes from this attack to finally finish the Yorktown and even then it didn't sink.
"Shattered Sword" goes into detail about the differences in damage control between the two navies. The USN was well ahead of the IJN in damage control philosophy and implementation.
Posted 14 February 2012 - 08:00 PM
Posted 15 February 2012 - 04:26 AM
Posted 15 February 2012 - 05:45 AM
But what's also important about these reports is that they were spread throughout the US Navy (perhaps Royal Navy too). The Japanese, instead, hid their losses and never learned from them operationally. The US Navy was keenly interested in learning from its mistakes.
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Posted 15 February 2012 - 10:08 AM
Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:28 PM
It is the function of the Navy to carry the war to the enemy so that it will not be fought on U.S. soil. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:37 PM
"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."
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