What were the reasons for the Japanese defeat during the battle of Midway in June 1942

Topics: World War II, Battle of Midway, Imperial Japanese Navy Pages: 6 (1980 words) Published: March 14, 2014
Summary of Evidence
On September 6, 1941, the Japanese government decided to go to war with America. (Japan had been preparing for the possibility of war for several years.) Though the final decision to actually go to war was deferred, pending a possible diplomatic breakthrough, the machinery for war, especially in the Imperial Japanese Navy, was put in motion. In April 1942 Japan wanted to expand their defensive lines so they went east towards the island of Midway (1000 miles from Hawaii), they sent most of the imperial fleet to battle. That fleet was composed of four aircraft carriers, two battleships, thirteen cruisers, assorted submarines, transports and mine sweepers. "The Battle of Midway, 1942" EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2001). After that, an event known as the “Allied Code-Breaking” took place , Admiral Nimitz of the allied forces had his cryptanalysts had broken the JN-25 code. The US had been decoding messages since spring 1942 and they discovered that Japan’s objective was Midway. The American base at Midway started to send false messages saying that its water distillation plant had been damaged and that the base needed fresh water. The Japanese saw this and soon started to send messages stating that "AF was short on water”. AF was the name of the objective the Japanese had which was Midway. Commander Joseph J. Rochefort and his team at Station Hypo were able to determine that the attack was going to be on either the 4th or the 5th of June. As a result the Americans were able to enter the battle knowing when and where the Japanese were going to be and also with what force they were going to attack. The Japanese Naval Marshal General Isoroku Yamamoto considered that going to war with the United States was a “suicidal mission” and that he did not think that Japan could win such war.

Yamamoto had very complex plans before the battle; these could be considered optimistic because it believed that the USS Enterprise and the USS Hornet were the only carriers in the American pacific fleet according to Japanese intelligence. During the battle of the coral sea (may 4-8 1942), USS Lexington was sunk and USS Yorktown was heavily damaged, Japanese intelligence knew that the USS Saratoga was under repairs because of torpedo damage from a submarine. With all this Yamamoto believed that the American fleet was demoralized because of their frequent defeats during the preceding six months. Yamamoto’s plans consisted in dispersing his ships (mostly battleships) so that they would not have got been discovered by the Americans prior to battle. One mistake was that the Japanese were not aware that the Americans broke the Japanese naval code. Yamamoto’s dispersal plans also meant that none of the ships could support another because they were widely dispersed and left some carriers un-protected; Nagumo’s fleet wasn’t able to receive reconnaissance support because of the distance from the scout planes. Yamamoto was too Confident and underestimated the capabilities of the Pacific American fleet.

The Battle started with air attacks in June 3rd. The Americans sent 9 B-17 Flying fortress to Midway and found Japanese transport groups, The next morning a Japanese tanker “Akebono Maru” was hit by a PYB Catalina Flying Boat with a torpedo, this was the only successful air launched torpedo in the entire battle. The Japanese air counterattack consisted of: 36 Aichi D3A dive bombers and 36 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers, escorted by 36 A6M Zero fighters, the initial Japanese attacks did not succeed in neutralizing Midway. The American bombers could still use the airbase to refuel their planes and then keep on with the attack on the Japanese forces. On June 5 the commander of the US naval forces Raymond Spruance gave the command of “proceed to target”, the fleet he sent was not organized because it was an emergency call, and there was no time for organization, therefore he thought that he was going to get a lot of...
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