Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, June 5, 2017

The End of the Beginning + 75 Years

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Midway. The battle marked the turning point of the war against Japan. The Japanese sent a large force to invade Midway Island, spearheaded by four carriers. The US Navy had three carriers and, thanks to the Navy's code breakers, some knowledge of what the Japanese plan was.

The Japanese carriers launched strikes against the island, only to be found and attacked.

USN divebombers badly damaged three of the carriers on the morning of June 4th. All three were out of the fight, they were all abandoned and scuttled.

The fourth Japanese carrier struck back. Her planes badly damaged the USS Yorktown, which was later sunk by a Japanese submarine while under tow. This photo shows the Yorktown under attack.

The fourth Japanese carrier was sunk that afternoon.

Turning points to a war are only apparent long after they happen. At this point, the US and her allies in the Pacific had been at war with Japan for six months, the war would continue on for three more years.

The person who saw this most clearly, though, was Admiral Yamamoto, who, in 1940, was quoted as saying this about the prospect of a general war in the Pacific: "In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success."

He was right and he was proven to be so 75 years ago.

(Longtime readers might recognize this one.)

There is a press report about the leak that ran in the Chicago Tribune. The officer who inadvertently leaked it, the reporter who reported on it and the publisher, Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune, were lucky that they weren't all shot. What was astonishing was that no quasi-neutral country's diplomatic staff in Washington, such as Switzerland, didn't see the newspaper story and pass it along to the Germans, who would have, in turn, informed Japan.

If you pass through KMDW, be sure and spend a few minutes at the hallway to Concourse A:

There is a display by the windows which succinctly explains the battle, the time leading up to it and the aftermath.


B said...

Flying out of that airport occasionally, I have had the time to look at the display. It is, indeed, pretty cool. Lots of details there that I did not know until I read them at the airport.

Mark Rossmore said...

The Dauntless i my favorite WWII aircraft. As they said, fighter pilots make movies... and bomber pilots make history. If you ever visit the Naval Aviation Museum Museum in Pensacola, they have an SBD Dauntless that was shot up on the ground at Pearl Harbor, patched up, flew in the Battle of Midway, and wound up stateside as a Great Lakes wreck. It's still got sheet metal patches from bullet holes on it.

Tod Germanica said...

Lots of pundits blame overly deferential Japanese hierarchy combined with Yamamoto's extreme prestige in preventing ijn staff from vigorous critical operational plans analysis.
Or else, damn did we get lucky.
One thing for sure, they were big believers in Japanese exceptionalism.

DTWND said...

It is amazing throughout history how many events that relate to luck have molded events that affect battles and the results of wars.


deadstick said...

In April '43, when Midway was simply regarded as a battle that came off well, the Navy gave the name USS Midway to the escort carrier CVE-63, then under construction. In October '44 they came up against two PR problems. First, Midway had turned out to be a Very Big Deal and they had named a second-string ship after it. Second, the Army was pressuring them to name a ship after one of its successes in Normandy. So, they killed both birds by summarily taking the name away from CVE-63, giving it to the new attack carrier CV-41 (which wouldn't be launched before war's end), and renaming CVE-63 as USS St. Lo.

Two weeks later, the St. Lo became the first Kamikaze victim.

3383 said...

Mark Rossmore- If you are Swede Vejtasa, you are both!

To anyone who is familiar with Midway's recorded history, I recommend Shattered Sword by Jonathan Parshall and Andrew Tully.

Ole Phat Stu said...

More praise to the codebreakers such as Col.William F.Friedmann (the man who broke Purple), who enabled a couple of longe range fighters (Lightnings?) to sneak up on Yamamoto and assassinate him.

deadstick said...


One of only two successful targeted assassinations against the Axis.