Friday, May 30, 2008

Fullbore Friday

The Battle of Midway - the Japanese side.

If you don't poke around the site - you are missing it.

During the stay of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey in Japan, shortly after the conclusion of the war, a sizable number of official Japanese naval papers were recovered and returned to the Washington Document Center. The Naval Analysis Division of the Survey, in connection with its studies, arranged for the scanning of most of these documents and the fuller translation of some, but lack of qualified personnel has not yet permitted the complete coverage which a critical historical examination must later demand.

The document here presented in full is the action report by the C-in-C of the First Air Fleet, Admiral Nagumo, who was the commander of the Striking Force at Midway. As its title implies, this force contained the major offensive strength of the Combined Fleet, in its four aircraft carriers, and in fact conducted all the attack effort in this engagement. It was likewise the primary target of the United States forces involved. In the main, therefore, the action report of the Striking Force covers most of the detail of the historic Battle of Midway as seen from the Japanese side.

The Striking Force (variously titled Mobile Force, First Attack Force, and First Air Fleet) approached Midway from the northwest. The Occupation Force with landing troops embarked approached from the southwest. The Main Body, with Admiral Yamamoto, C-in-C Combined Fleet, took no part in the action, remaining to the westward prepared to meet such American threat to the concurrent operations in the Aleutians and at Midway as might develop.

There have been noted a number of obvious typographical errors in the original text, and several minor errors in fact particularly with respect to recognition of American aircraft types. In addition, there is sometimes difficulty in presenting an exact meaning in interpretation due to inherent peculiarities in Japanese naval phraseology.

It is suggested that the reader will benefit by reference to appropriate sections of "Interrogations of Japanese Officials" and "The Campaigns of the Pacific War" which have been published by the Naval Analysis Division of the Survey.

The arduous task of translating this document was accomplished by Mr. Fred Woodrough, Jr., of the Office of Naval Communications. Mr. Woodrough accompanied the Naval Analysis Division to Japan where he served as the Senior interpreter and translator of that group.

Rear Admiral, USN,
Senior Naval Member,
U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey
You miss perspective.
3. Actual Condition of the Enemy

(a) Actual conditions in the Midway area: The enemy apparently anticipated our attack and had their attack planes and flying boats take off. They also concentrated about 50 fighters (all Grummans), and intercepted our first attack wave at a point approximately 30 miles short of our target. When we subjected these to fierce counterattacks, however, they were put on the defensive and engaged, for the most part, in evasive maneuvers. Our ship-based attack planes and bombers suffered no casualties from enemy interceptors while the greater part of their fighters were brought down by us. Results we obtained were 41 enemy ship-based fighters, 1 ship-based bomber and 1 float recco shot down. We lost 4 planes from the exceedingly hot enemy AA fire, so our total losses including 2 which were scuttled during air engagements, were 6 planes.

6. General Situation at Conclusion of Operations and the Commander's Estimate Concerning It

Exceptional fighting was shown by all forces and all ships participating in this operation, and because of it, severe damages were inflicted on the enemy. At the same time, our losses numbered four carriers and the occupation of Midway was not carried out.

The enemy, however, having lost two of their powerful carriers and many of his air personnel, would undoubtedly be unable to effect any large-scale operation in the near future. It is believed that the enemy will surely strike back at some time, and every precaution should be taken against this.

Through this operation, there are some vital lessons learned in aircraft carrier warfare, which should be kept alive. These include such items as the reinforcements of searches for the enemy, flexibility of assembling and dispersing, and the speedy take-offs of friendly aircraft when the enemy is sighted.
You miss the critical importance of timely delivery of CCIRs.
(b) Communication:

Tone's #4 plane's message, reporting the sighting of the enemy, was filed at 0428 but was not delivered until about 0500. Hiryu's Air Officer's message stating that there was a need for a second attack wave was filed at 0400 and delivered 4 or 5 minutes later. The messages ordering the carrying out of the second attack wave today, and to have the stand-by planes change from torpedoes to bombs, were all delivered by 0415. The delay in the delivery of message from Tone's #4 plane greatly affected our subsequent attack preparations.
You also miss the sublime understatement of an unknown horror.
Pertinent facts concerning the POW picked up by the Arashi, and his testimony were as follows:

His plane which was from the U.S. carrier Yorktown,
was shot down in position 30-30N, 178-40W on 5 June. He died on 6 June and was buried at sea. The following information was obtained from him:

(1) POW's name and rank:9

(2) Place of birth: Chicago.

(3) Age: 23.

(4) Point of debarkation: Pearl Harbor.

(5) Destination: Vicinity of Midway.

(6) Other items:

(i) Enemy task force strength:

3 carriers (Yorktown, Enterprise, Hornet).

6 cruisers; about 10 destroyers.

(ii) The Yorktown, 2 cruisers, and 3 destroyers formed one group, and was separated from the other forces.

(iii) Sortied from Pearl Harbor during the morning of 31 May, arriving in the vicinity of Midway on 2 June. Since then, this group had been carrying out a mobile patrol along a north-south line.

(iv) There were no battleships in Pearl Harbor on 31 May. (The POW engaged in base training until 31 May, and therefore had no detailed knowledge of battleship movements in the Hawaii area.)

(v) Air strength on the island of Oahu:

Navy had about 200 to 300 planes (including 20 flying boats); the principal base was on Ford Island; POW had no detailed knowledge of the Army, but believed that it had several hundred planes there.

(vi) Base for carrier plane drills: Kaneohe, on Oahu.

(vii) Types (numbers) of aircraft on the Yorktown
Rest in peace.

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