Douglas SBD-3 "Dauntless" dive bombers at Midway



Admirals Nimitz and YamamotoTwo great naval strategists, Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, once a student at Harvard University and principal planner of the successful Pearl Harbor sneak attack, were destined to clash over which nation was to control the Pacific, using aircraft as the ultimate weapon.

Yamamoto had more aircraft carriers and more planes, and one, the Zero, was superior in most respects to all U.S. war planes in the battle.  That battle was fought June 4th through June 7h of 1942, only six months after the disastrous Japanese sneak attack on our Pearl Harbor Hawaii naval base.
Japanese 'Zero' fighter
Nimitz had several advantages: The U.S. had broken the Japanese Naval code JN-25. This enabled our Navy to know the destination of the Japanese Armada and what the overall plan was meant to achieve: occupation of every base America had in the vast Pacific. Nimitz operated from an island he had stocked with vast amounts of fuel and ammunition available to the U.S. aircraft. 

He sent out Navy PBY Amphibian aircraft in an effort to pinpoint the exact location of the Japanese fleet. One of them found it less than 300 miles from Midway.

Midway Battle ClimaxThe crucial moment came when the captain of one of the Japanese carriers decided he needed to change the armament on his aircraft from torpedoes to bombs in order to destroy the facilities on Midway and fatefully decided to also refuel his aircraft while doing so. 

The introduction of a squadron of U. S. Douglas Dauntless Dive bombers made superb drops on the four carriers and sank them all..

It was a decisive victory that foretold the ultimate outcome of the war with Japan.

- Phil Richardson, Editor

Our unending thanks to Jim Bromley, who programs our Archive of Prior Commentaries

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