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MEMORANDUM

25 Mar 2015

From: MIDN 4/C Erin M. Mannix, USNR


To: LT Washburn, USN
Subj: BATTLE OF MIDWAY HISTORICAL PAPER
1.

Mass: Japans, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Combined Fleet, had

been pushing for another decisive battle aimed at the American Forces in
the Pacific. Control of Midway would extend the perimeter of Japans
outer defenses. Yamamoto knew by using the element of surprise, that the
Americans would send any remaining aircraft carriers to protect their
naval base there. Japan would bomb into submission the base on Midway
and then destroy the US carriers as they arrived too late for help.
However, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz had cracked Japanese naval code and
saw that the attack on the Aleutians was a mere diversion. He put Midway
on high alert and sent additional reinforcements to help defend it. He
also dispatched Admiral Raymond A. Spruance with carriers USS Enterprise
and USS Hornet to a location northeast of Midway, allowing it to get in
position and remain undetected prior to the Japanese patrols reaching
the area. Yamamoto did not know that another carrier would arrive (USS
Yorktown commanded by Admiral Fletcher). His plan anticipated two US
carriers, but there would be three.

2.

Objective: Japan wanted to gain control of Midway to increase

power in the Pacific. Admiral Yamamoto (Japans Combined Fleet) wanted


to destroy US Naval base on Midway. The US wanted to trick Japan by
sending more carriers to Midway, with the intention of protecting the
island and defeating the Japanese Navy.

3.

Offensive: Japan started off in the offensive by attacking the

base at Midway on 4 Jun 1972 at 0430 with 72 bombers and 36 fighter

planes. They pummeled Midway based planes but they did not destroy the
airfields. Needing a second strike, Japan sent 93 more aircraft to the
area only to find the approaching American fleet.

Japan had to decide

whether to continue with the attack on Midway or attack the carriers


instead. The US released the planes off of the USS Hornet and Enterprise
at 0700 at attacked the Japanese fleet in waves. It left the Japanese
fleet vulnerable and made it difficult for the aircraft to provide
defense for its ships.

With the US on the offensive now, they continued

to send dive-bombers to destroy the Japanese carriers, Kaga, Soryu, and


Akagi. The carried were eventually destroyed; however, the remaining
one, Hiryu, disabled the USS Yorktown. Hiryu was eventually destroyed as
well. Japan sent their defeated fleet to return to the base on 5 Jun in
attempt to disable the US more. The US pursued, damaging enemy
destroyers and cruisers. Japans submarine I-168 destroyed the USS
Hammann and the USS Yorktown, but Japan was unable to overcome their
losses.

4.

Security: The US and Japanese navies were constantly struggling to

remain in the offensive. However, the US did a better job at maintaining


its power and altering its plans of attack when needed. The US started
off in a defensive position, but eventually ended up on the offensive
when they attacked the Japanese carriers with bombers. By doing that,
they hurt the Japanese navy enough that they would not be able to regain
their offensive position, which ultimately led to defeat.

5.

Economy of Force: The US wanted to have the best shot at defeating

and surprising the Japanese forces, so they did not send all their
available resources to Midway at once. They instead held out and waited

for the right time to employ all combat power to be most effective. The
Japanese navy on the other hand, used all their resources right away,
making it hard for them to recover when they needed it most. The US, by
having a plan, was able to use their resources most effectively to have
the most probable outcome.

6.

Maneuver: The US gained positional advantage when they released

their bombers off of the carriers. They destroyed the Japanese fleet
enough that they could not come back with full force. Many of the
Japanese killed were their best pilots and crews, making their losses
quite heavy. This battle is comparable to chess, due to the fact that
when one would move, the other would move, regroup, and make the best
move possible. Both forces were determined to keep the other on the
defensive, that way the opponent would never have the chance to threaten
their pieces. The US, however, won that match and was able to claim the
victory at Midway, which marked a turning point in the Pacific Theater.
Midway was the first major defeat of the Japanese Navy and it put an end
to their offensive actions in the Pacific.

7. Unity of Command: The US and Japanese navies had their differences


when it came to strategy and command authority. While the Japanese had a
superior force at Midway, they were overconfident. Their on-site
commanders were slow to react to battle circumstances and were not
encouraged to adjust Yamamotos detailed plan. Admiral Nimitz,
meanwhile, had faith in his task force commanders. He stressed only the

ultimate objectives of sinking the enemys aircraft carriers and using


calculated risk to achieve that goal. Those simple orders allowed

Fletcher and Spruance to make independent decisions based on what they


saw during the battle.

8.

Simplicity: Admiral Nimitz had two goals in mind, which was to

protect Midway and destroy the Japanese fleet. He managed to do both


because he gave clear orders to his commanders. The only time there was
lack of communication was when the bombers were released off of the
carriers. It was an uncoordinated attack and some of the dive-bombers
got separated and lost. Other than that, his plan of attack was simple
and the US Navy did what they were supposed to do, making for a
favorable outcome. The Japanese navy, on the other hand, lacked
communication and encouragement to follow specific plans, which was
probably a large part of why they were defeated.

9.

Surprise: The US wanted to surprise the Japanese Navy by having

three aircraft carriers instead of two. The Japanese Navy was prepared
for the two carriers only, and was shocked to see another approaching
Midway. Japan also wanted to distract the American forces by launching
an attack northward on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska in the early
morning hours of 3 June. The Japanese hoped to draw some U.S. naval
forces in that direction. Meanwhile, the Japanese Navy was headed for
Midway. But Yamamoto lacked some important information; he did
not know that the US had cracked Japans naval code. The US saw the
attack on the Aleutians for what it wasa diversion. The US was then
able to send additional reinforcements to Midway.

Erin M. Mannix
4
Works Cited

Prados, John. "Battle of Midway." History.com. A&E Television Networks,


Web. 25 Mar. 2015.

Krasner, Barbara D. "The Battle Of Midway." Cobblestone 35.5 (2014):


26. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.
"Midway, Battle Of." Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014): 1p.
1. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.

Rubel, Robert C. "Deconstructing Nimitz's Principle Of Calculated


Risk." Naval War College Review 68.1 (2015): 30-45. Academic
Search Premier. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.