Midway Island Demolished. Yorktown, Destroyer Sunk.
Many US planes lost
June 7, 1942The United States Navy suffered another blow in its attempt to stem the Japanese juggernaut ravaging the Pacific Ocean. Midway Island, perhaps the most vital U.S. outpost, was pummeled by Japanese Naval aviators. The defending U.S. forces, consisting primarily of antique Buffalo fighters, were competely wiped out while the Japanese attackers suffered few, if any, losses.
In a nearby naval confrontation, the Japanese successfully attacked the Yorktown which was later sunk by a Japanese submarine. A destroyer lashed to the Yorktown was also sunk.
American forces claim to have sunk four Japanese carriers and the cruiser Mogami but those claims were vehemently denied by the Emporer’s spokeman.
The American carriers lost an entire squadron of torpedo planes when they failed to link up with fighter escorts. The dive bombers had fighter escort even though they weren’t engaged by enemy fighters. The War Dept. refused to answer when asked why the fighters were assigned to the wrong attack groups. The Hornet lost a large number of planes when they couldn’t locate the enemy task force. Despite this cavalcade of errors, Admirals Fletcher and Spruance have not been removed.
The failure at Midway is even more disheartening because the U.S. Navy knew the Japanese were coming. Secret documents provided to the NY Times showed that “Magic” intercepts showed the Japanese planned to attack Midway, which they called “AF”.
Some critics blamed the failure at Midway on the use of obsolete aircraft. The inappropriately named Devastator torpedo planes proved no match for the Japanese fighters. Even the Avengers, its schedule replacements, were riddled with bullets and rendered unflyable. Secretary of War Stimson dodged the question saying simply: “You go to war with the Navy you have, not the Navy you want or would like to have”. Critics immediately called for his resignation.