More details of the
Battle of Midway, June 4-6, 1942
The Japanese sent their entire fleet to capture Midway Island in the hopes the small US Navy would come to fight and be destroyed. Nimitz got word of the plan and set an ambush. While the Japanese carriers were rearming after bombing Midway, Fletcher's airplanes attacked and destroyed three of four big carriers. Planes from the surviving carrier damaged Yorktown. A second US strike put down the fourth enemy carrier. Damaged Yorktown was sunk by a submarine two days later.
Admiral Earnest King - Commander in Chief Navy. Washington,DC.
Admiral Chester Nimitz - CinC Pacific, Pearl Harbor.
Rear Admiral Frank Fletcher - Officer in Tactical Command, Commander TF-17
Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance - Task Force 16, substituting for Halsey (hospital)
Capt Elliott Buckmaster -- Yorktown (CV-5)
Capt George D. Murray -- Enterprise (CV-6)
Capt/RAdm Marc Mitscher -- Hornet (CV-8)
RAdm Thomas C. Kinkaid -- TF-16 Cruiser Group
RAdm William W. Smith -- TF-17 Cruiser Group
RAdm Robert A. Theobald -- TF-8 sent to Alaska
CARRIER STRIKING FORCE
RAdm Frank Jack Fletcher -- Officer in Tactical Command, aboard Yorktown
Task Force 16 -- RAdm Raymond A. Spruance
Chief of Staff -- Capt Miles R. Browning
Enterprise (CV-6) -- Capt George D. Murray
Air Boss (CAG) LCdr Clarence W McClusky
VB-6 -- 19 SBD-2,-3, Dauntless , Lt Richard S. Best (11 lost)
VS-6 -- 19 SBD-2,-3, Dauntless, Lt. Wilmer E. Gallaher (9)
VT-6 -- 14 TBD-1, Devastator, LCdr Eugene E. Lindsey (11)
VF-6 -- 27 F4F-4, Wildcat, Lt James S. Gray (1)
Hornet (CV-8) -- Captain/RAdm Marc. A. Mitscher
Air Boss (CAG) Cdr Stanhope C. Ring
VB-8 -- 19 SBD-2,-3, LCdr Robert R. Johnson (5)
VS-8 -- 18 SBD-1,-2,-3, LCdr Walter F Rodee
VT-8 -- 15 TBD - LCdr John C. Waldron (15 [all])
VF-8 -- 27 F4F-4 LCdr Samuel G. Mitchell (12)
Cruiser Group -- RAdm Thomas C. Kinkaid (ComCruDiv 6)
New Orleans (CA-32)
DesRon 1, Capt Alexander R. Early.
Phelps (DD-360), Dewey (DD-349), Worden (DD-352), Aylwin (DD-355), Monaghan (DD-354)
DesRon 6, Capt Edward P. Sauer
Balch (DD-363), Conyngham (DD-371), Maury (DD-401), Benhan (DD-397), Ellet (DD-398), Monssen (DD-346)
Task Force 17 -- RAdm Fletcher
Yorktown (CV-5) — Capt Elliott Buckmaster
Air Boss (CAG), LCdr Oscar Pederson
VB-3 -- 18 SBD-3, LCdr Maxwell F. Leslie (12 lost)
VS-5 -- 19 SBD-3, (really VB-5, renamed to avoid confusion) Lt Wallace C. Short, Jr
VT-3 -- 13 TBD-1, LCdr Lance E. Massey (10)
VF-3 -- 25 F4F-4 (half from VF-42, experienced Yorktown pilots) LCdr John S Thach (10)
Cruiser Group, TG 17.2 -- RAdm William W. "Peco" Smith
Destroyer Squadron, TG 17.4 -- Capt Gilbert C. Hoover (ComDesRon 2)
Morris (DD-417), Anderson (DD-411), Hammann (DD-412), Russell (DD-414), Hughes (DD-410) , (1 joined on June 5)
Submarines - RAdm Robert H. English, Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, at Pearl Harbor
Cachalot, Flying Fish, Tambor, Trout, Grayling, Nautilus, Grouper, Dolphin, Gato, Cuttlefish, Gudgeon, Grenadier - west of Midway ;
Narwhal, Plunger, Trigger - between Oahu and Midway ;
Tarpon, Pike, Pinback, Growler - north of Oahu.
Cimarron (AO-22) with Monssen (DD-436) stationed east of Midway
Platte (AO-24) with Dewey (DD-349) with TF-17.
20 F2A-3 Buffalo , 7 F4F-3 Wildcat (16 lost)
11 SB2U Vindicator (4 lost), 16 SBD-2 Dauntless (8 lost)
Army Air Force
4 B-26 Marauder (3 lost), 19 B-17 Flying Fortress
32 PBY-5,-5a Catalinas
6 TBF Avenger (new type, 5 lost)
JAPANESE IMPERIAL NAVY
COMBINED FLEET- Adm Isoroky Yamamoto
ADVANCE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE -- VAdm Teruhisa Komatsu
16 submarines - 10 for Midway, 6 for Alaska
FIRST MOBILE FORCE - VAdm Chuichi Nagumo
Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu (CV) - fleet carriers
Haruna (BB), Kirishima (BB)
Tone (CA), Chikuma (CA)
6 AO plus other ships
MIDWAY OCCUPATION FORCE -- VAdm Nobutake Kondo
2 BB ; 4 CA ; 7 DD ; 6 AO ; Nuiho (CVL) ; other ships
CLOSE SUPPORT GROUP -- RAdm Takeo Kurita
Kumano (CA), Suzuya (CA), Mikuma (CA), Mogami (CA)
Asashio (DD), Arashio (DD) ; Nichiei (AO)
TRANSPORT GROUP -- RAdm Raizo Tanaka
12 AP/AK ; 1 CL, 10 DD ; 1 AO ; other ships
4 minesweepers, 3 PC; 2 AK
MAIN BODY (FIRST FLEET) -- Adm Yamamoto
Yamato, Mutsu, Nagato (BB) - Battleships ; 13 DD ;
Hosho (CVL), 2 seaplane carriers
ALEUTIAN SCREENING FORCE -- VAdm Shiro Takasu
Hyuga, Ise, Fuso, Yamashiro (BB)
2 CL, 4 AO (between Midway and Alaska)
SHORE-BASED AIR FORCE
Wake, Kwajalein, Aur & Wotje -- 10 bombers, 72 torpedo planes, 72 Zeros, 24 flying boats
SIDESHOWSALASKAUnited States Navy
Task Force 8 -- RAdm Robert A. Theobald (in Nashville)
Nashville (CL-43) flag
St. Louis (CL-49)
DesDiv 11 : Gridley (DD-380), McCall (DD-400), Gilmer (DD-233), Humphreys (DD-236)
TG 8.1 Air Search Group
Williamson (AVD-2), Gillis (AVD-12), Casco (AVP-12) with 20 PBY of PatWing 4 ; 1 B-17
TG 8.2 Surface Search or Scouting Group
Charleston (PG), Oriole (AO), 14 YP, 5 Coast Guard cutters
TG 8.3 Air Striking Group — Brig Gen William O. Butler, USA
Ft. Randall — 21 fighters, 14 bombers
Ft. Glenn, Umnak — 12 fighters
Kodiak — 32 fighters, 5 bombers, 2 light bombers
Anchorage — 44 fighters, 24 bombers, 2 light bombers
TG 8.4 Destroyer Striking Group — 9 DD
Case, Reid, Brookes, Sands, Kane, Dent, Talbot, King, Waters.
TG 8.5 Submarine Group
S-18, S-23, S-27, S-28, S-34, S-35
TG 8.9 Tanker Group — Sabine (AO), Brazos (AO), SS Comet
NORTHERN AREA FORCE - Adm Hosogaya
Nachi (CA) ; 2 DD ; 2 AO ; 3 AK
Second Mobile Force - RAdm Kakuji Kakuta
Ryujo (CVL), Junyo (CVL) ; Maya (CA), Takao(CA) ; 3 DD ; 1 AO
Occupation Force Adak-Attu
5 DD ; 2 AP ; 1 seaplane carrier ; minesweepers
Occupation Force Kiska
2 CL ; 1 CX ; 3 DD ; 2 AP ; 3 SC
TF-1 (Battleships) VAdm William S. Pye.
Pye had his battleships sunk at Pearl and commanded replacements returned from the Atlantic or as repaired. The BB fleet was based in San Francisco, there was not room,
fuel, tankers, nor need for slow BBs at Pearl this time. Not included in the Midway planning, he sortied to provide a backstop in case the Japanese made a foray towards
the US mainland or if they broke through from Midway to raid Hawaii. Although a respected naval leader, his career withered.
31May42 . BatDiv 4 sortied, RAdm Walter S. Anderson
Maryland (BB-46 ), Colorado (BB-45) ; 2 DD, [a third DD joined next day]
5June42 . Sortied :
Mississippi (BB-41), Idaho (BB-42) ; New Mexico (BB-40), Tennessee (BB-43) , Pennsylvania (BB-38) ; 5 DD ; and Long Island (AVG-1 [later known as CVE-1).
Yorktown (CV-5) , Hammann (DD-412)
144 aircraft ; 104 pilots and air crew ; 258 sailors
This does not include Midway based losses : possibly 70 pilots and air crew
Fleet carriers : Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu ; heavy cruiser Mikuma
250 aircraft ; about 110 pilots and aircrew ; almost 3000 sailors
King . Member of Joint Chiefs, attended meeting with miliary and civilian leaders to lobby for increased support for the Pacific War (Allied policy was "Germany first."). Interfered with the Nimitz for the first six months. His D.C. staff and Pacific staff frequently differed on interpretation of Japanese intentions. King was concerned with attack on West Coast, favored battleships, wanted the carrier escort of CAs, DDs to make surface attacks. Represented the political desires from D.C.
Nimitz and his admirals won the Pacific War, tho MacArthur was given command of defeated Japan. Nimitz had to convince King the next battle would be for Midway and took the giant risk with the small US fleet to try to ambush the much larger Japanese force.
Fletcher . Officer in Tactical Command, fresh from Battle of Coral Sea where he had traded carriers, in the first carrier battle in history, with the Imperial Japanese Navy who withdrew their invasion force. He had sunk one and damaged two carriers that did not make it to Midway. Six weeks later he would save Guadalcanal in the Battle of Eastern Solomons. King, over Nimitz objection, sent Fletcher to quell the public fears of invasion through Alaska. Fletcher had sunk six enemy carriers, a record unmatched. Later became North Pacific and accepted the surrender of the Japanese northern fleet.
Spruance . Substituted for Halsey (hospital) as TF-16. Had already been picked for Nimitz next chief of staff. Later commanded US Fifth fleet.
Halsey . The senior carrier task force commander was in the hospital and was out of the war for the period June to September 1942. Later commanded South Pacific and the Third Fleet.
At this stage in the war, captains assigned to fleet carriers had already been selected for flag rank ; Mitscher, Murray, Noyes.
Mitscher . Hornet had already made admiral in May, yet remained as captain of Hornet, but he performed so poorly he was sent ashore for 18 months. Came back later to command the carrier force in the last year of the war.
Murray . Enterprise, was actually on his way out, but performed so well at Midway he did make Rear Admiral. Given TF-17, he aggressively moved through the South Pacific until Hornet was sunk at Santa Cruz. Later ComAirPac. .
Buckmaster . Yorktown was the most successful captain at Midway, but because Yorktown did not rollover,
even tho her high flight deck was touching the water when he ordered the ship abandoned, his career suffered stagnation.
Ramsey . Saratoga became RAdm of a Task Group, commander at New Georga , which included Saratoga.
Kinkaid . A cruiser admiral, received a carrier task force replacing Fletcher. Lost two carriers in six weeks and sent to replace Theobald as Alaska. Came back in Nov'43 to command MacArthur's navy. Named commander Central Philippines Attack Force.
Theobald . -- Not privy to Nimitz's
secret information, positioned his TF too far east. He moved up to command Alaska Frontier, soon replaced by Kinkaid, who was later replaced by Fletcher who became commander all North Pacific.
Fitch . TF-11, Saratoga, Led raid on Salamaua-Lae. Had been Fletcher's air commander in Lexington at Coral Sea. Arrived too late for Midway action, but provided replacement aircraft.
Made ferry cruise to Midway, but was too valuable to naval air administration to continue in sea duty. Commander Naval air forces S.Pac
Smith . Previously chief of staff Pacific. Cruiser admiral, moved up to replace Theobald in TF-8 in Alaska. Sucession of senior positions.
Browning -- TF-16 chief of staff provided advice to inexperienced Spruance. Credited with much of victory, but made many mistakes that cost planes. Bright but temperamental, sent ashore until Halsey returned him to chief of staff South Pacific, brief command of Hornet II, then permanently reassigned to Staff College.
Lexington (CV-2) was lost at Coral Sea one month earlier while successfully repulsing
Japanese invasion of Port Malsby in company with Yorktown.
Saratoga (CV-3) had completed repairs at Bremerton from torpedo damage .
Hastily departed San Diego 1June42 under Captain Dewitt C. Ramsey without Task Force 11 Commander, RAdm Aubrey W. Fitch.
Fitch in Chester (CA-27) arrived San Diego the next day, but had to provision and departed 4 June , arrived Pearl 8June after Sara had left again.
Sara, San Diego (CLaa-53), and 4 DD had arrived Pearl 6June, departed north 7June with surplus of aircraft to replenish Enterprise and Hornet. Joined Fletcher 8June becoming part of TF-17. Sara returned Pearl, became TF-11 (Fitch), departed 18June with replacement aircraft for Midway.
Ranger (CV-4) was an experiment with smaller, more economical carrier design
and was principally an aircraft ferry to Africa and served in the Atlantic during the war.
Yorktown (CV-5) Returned to Pacific 1Jan42 to become Fletcher's flagship of TF 17. Escorted troops to Samoa and attacked Gilberts on the way back. Attacked invasion at Salamaua-Lae. Yorktown was damaged at Coral Sea, hastily repaired at Pearl in time to fight at Midway. Damaged again, she was finally sunk by submarine while under tow.
Yorktown after Midway.
Fletcher's score is 4 : 1
Enterprise (CV-6) . . .
The most decorated ship of WW2, fought in 20 battles. Enough said !
Wasp (CV-7) was smaller, build from lessons learned with Ranger. and was in the Atlantic ferrying Spitfires to Malta. She was sent to replace Lexington in the Pacific arriving in Mid-June, after Battle of Midway . She was sunk by submarine attack 3 months later escorting troops to reinforce Guadalcanal.
Hornet (CV-8) As a brand new ship on shakedown was tagged for Doolittle's B-25 raid on Tokyo and sent to the Pacific. She was lost at Santa Cruz (Guadalcanal) four and a half months after Midway.
Long Island (AVG-1) was converted from a merchant hull in 68 days, June'41, as an auxilary to free fleet carriers from ferry duty. She was being tested as a scout with TF-1, the BB fleet during Midway. Three months later Long Island, as ACV-1, delivered the first planes to Guadalcanal. This class of ship was re designated from auxiliary to combatant, CVE on 15July43. Kaiser built 50 CVE, escort carriers, merchant hulls with flight decks, in a 12 month period for ferry, anti-sub, and occasionally, combat roles. Commissioned July'43 to mid'44 for service in later war.
F4F-4 Wildcat had folding wings and 6- 50 cal machine guns. It's flight performance against a Zero was no better than the fixed wing, 4-gun, F4F-3 Wildcat, but more planes could be carried.
HISTORY. Grumman F4F-1 was a biplane design, withdrawn and a single wing version, F4F-2, submitted that lost to the F2A Buffalo in 1938. The F4F-3 was fitted with a larger engine and supercharger and the Navy ordered 78 in Aug'39. Early production went to the British Fleet in July'40 and to the USN Dec'40. Ninety-five more aircraft were ordered for 1941. The F4F-4 had 2 more guns, folding wings, and self-sealing gas tanks with delivery starting about the time of Pearl Harbor. A thousand were built as FM-1.
PBY-5 Catalinas The -5a had retractable wheels for sea or land use. They added weight, reducing range, but gave more flexibility.
1.1" anti-aircraft gun. Usually a quad mount; prone to jamming, these were being replaced
with the 40mm (1.5") Bofors gun in dual and quad mounts.
50 cal machine gun replacement had started before the war with the 20mm (.78", 78 cal) for close-in defense and were eventually mounted everywhere there was room aboard ship.
Link to main Midway
A good website that provides much of the colorful story of Midway.
Miracle at Midway by Gordon W. Prange, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1982.
Midway by Mitsuo Fuchida and Masatake Okumiya
Black Shoe Carrier Admiral by John B. Lundstrum, 2006
< Coral Sea
| home |
About this page: Midway2 - The men, ships, and aircraft at the Battle of Midway.
Last updated on August 25, 2006
Contact us at