Battle of Midway, 1942


4–7 June 1942


Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 26 U. S. Navy warships, 16 submarines, 233 carrier-based aircraft, and 127 land-based aircraft met 27 Imperial Japanese Navy warships, 248 carrier-based aircraft, and 28 floatplanes at Midway in a major and decisive naval battle of WWII.



Japanese command believed that naval dominance could only be obtained by destroying American aircraft carriers.  Admiral Yamamoto devised a plan to draw out what remained of the American fleet by attacking a target relatively close to Pearl Harbor.  U.S. intelligence; however, was able to break Japanese codes which enabled Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to understand the exact Japanese plans. Nimitz placed available U.S. carriers in position to surprise the Japanese moving up for their preparatory air strikes on Midway Island itself.



Midway Atoll, Pacific Theater




Task Force 16

Task Force 17

Led by

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Nimitz, c. 1960, Official U.S. Navy portrait, -Public Domain

Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher

Fletcher, September 1942, U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph, -Public Domain

Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance

Spruance, April 1944, U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph, -Public Domain


Supported by

U.S. Navy dive bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) approaching the burning Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma to make the third set of attacks on her, during the Battle of Midway, 6 June 1942., U.S. Navy Photo, Public Domain



Capt. Cyril T. Simard, Commanding

Simard, date uknown, Official U.S. Navy photo, Public Domain




1st Fleet

2nd Fleet

5th Fleet

11th Air Fleet

Led by

Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Yamamoto, date unknown, National Diet Library of Japan – Public Domain

Admiral Nobutake Kondō

Kondo, date unknown, -Public Domain

Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo

Nagumo, date unknown, -Public Domain

Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi, date unknown,, Public Domain



A victory for the United States


Japanese Heavy Cruiser sinking at Midway, 1942, Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives, Public Domain


U.S. forces suffered the sinking of fleet carrier USS Yorktown, and the destroyer USS Hammann, along with about 150 aircraft destroyed, 307 killed in action, including 3 killed as prisoners.  Japanese carriers Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū, and Soryū were sunk; as was the heavy cruiser Mikuma.  Heavy cruiser Mogami was badly damaged, 248 aircraft destroyed, 3,057 killed, and 37 captured.  Japanese Naval Captain Yanagimoto went down with his ship, the Soryū.  U.S.  Major General Clarence L. Tinker, Commander, 7th Air Force, personally led a bomber strike from Hawaii against the retreating Japanese forces on 7 June and was killed when his aircraft crashed near Midway Island.


Actual combat footage of the Battle of Midway


Actual footage of USS Yorktown


Japanese footage of aircraft carriers Akagi and Kaga

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