The Tide Turns The Battle of Midway

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					Following the Battle of Coral Sea, the commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet,
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, devised a plan to draw the remaining ships of the US
Pacific Fleet into a battle where they could be destroyed. To do this, he planned to
invade the island of Midway, 1,300 miles northwest of Hawaii. Critical to Pearl
Harbor's defense, Yamamoto knew the Americans would send their remaining carriers
to protect the island. Believing the US to only have two carriers operational, he sailed
with four, plus a large fleet of battleships and cruisers. Through the efforts of US
Navy cryptanalysts, who had broken the Japanese JN-25 naval code, Nimitz was
aware of the Japanese plan and dispatched the carriers USS Enterprise and USS
Hornet, under Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance, as well as the hastily repaired USS
.Yorktown, under Fletcher, to the waters north of Midway to intercept the Japanese

At 4:30 AM on June 4, the commander of the Japanese carrier force, Admiral Chuichi
Nagumo, launched a series of strikes against Midway Island. Overwhelming the
island's small air force, the Japanese pounded the American base. While returning to
the carriers, Nagumo's pilots recommended a second strike on the island. This
prompted Nagumo to order his reserve aircraft, which had been armed with torpedoes,
to be rearmed with bombs. As this process was underway, one of his scout planes
reported locating the US carriers. Hearing this, Nagumo reversed his rearmament
command in order to attack the ships. As the torpedoes were being put back on
.Nagumo's aircraft, American planes appeared over his fleet

Using reports from their own scout planes, Fletcher and Spruance began launching
aircraft around 7:00 AM. The first squadrons to reach the Japanese were the TBD
Devastator torpedo bombers from Hornet and Enterprise. Attacking at low level, they
did not score a hit and suffered heavy casualties. Though unsuccessful, the torpedo
planes pulled down the Japanese fighter cover, which cleared the way for the
American SBD Dauntless dive bombers. Striking at 10:22, they scored multiple hits,
sinking the carriers Akagi, Soryu, and Kaga. In response, the remaining Japanese
carrier, Hiryu, launched a counterstrike that twice disabled Yorktown. That afternoon,
US dive bombers returned and sunk Hiryu to seal the victory. His carriers lost,
Yamamoto abandoned the operation. Disabled, Yorktown was taken under tow, but
.was sunk by the submarine I-168 en route to Pearl Harbor

				
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posted:3/13/2012
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