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Monday, June 03, 2013

Battle of Midway 4 June - 7 June 1942

Was it the "turning point" in war with Japan over dominance in the Pacific? As set out in Battle of Midway:
The Battle of Midway, fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll, represents the strategic high water mark of Japan's Pacific Ocean war. Prior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive.
Why Midway? A tiny little atoll out in the middle of a great big ocean and - in the days before satellites - a key base for long range patrols essential for detecting threats approaching the Hawaiian Islands.

From Midway's airstrips, B-17 drop bombs at Japanese carriers
Further, as noted here:
Midway was a vital "sentry for Hawaii", and a serious assault on it would almost certainly produce a major naval battle, a battle that the Japanese confidently expected to win. That victory would eliminate the U.S. Pacific fleet as an important threat, perhaps leading to the negotiated peace that was Japan's Pacific War "exit strategy".
As the 71st anniversary of Midway begins, it is a good time to reflect on the importance of the Pacific to the United States, both strategically and economically.

More to follow.

Related: In the mail from the U.S. Naval Institute Press, The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute's Guide to the U.S. Navy's Greatest Victory edited by Thomas C. Hone.

It was a great victory as we'll discuss here over the next few days . . . but the "greatest?"

Let the debate begin.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:11 AM

    Parshall and Tulley's Shattered Sword does a good job of covering the technical and tactical aspects of the battle. They get heavily into the things that most lay readers would not normally consider in terms of how the navies fought and trained. Some of the items whose impact they get into are CIC, fighter director centers, damage control and accessability of hangar decks to exterior fire fighting assistance from other ships. I know that our host and other naval readers of the blog are familiar with the importance of these things, but this was the first public offering I've encountered that entered into these areas.

    I don't know that Midway was the greatest victory, Surigao Straight or Leyte Gulf certainly involve more ships, but it was clearly crucial. Japan never again had the flexibility of operation it had before and the initiative clearly (at least in hindsight, it was almost certainly less obvious to the participants) shifted to the Allies. It also had, with Coral Sea, a great benefit in proving effective practises and tactics, which continued through the war. One aspect that is often overlooked is the impact that the General Board had in setting the stage in the prewar years. They advocated the designs and methods that made the victories possible. We could certainly use a similar body, now.