Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) after being hit by Japanese bombs shortly after noon on 4 June 1942. This view was taken shortly after the ship lost power and stopped, while F4F-4 fighters were still spotted forward, their location during the attack. Fires are burning in Yorktown’s uptakes.

I don’t know that I’d ever seen this particular picture before. For many, many more, see Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942 — Overview and Special Image Selection

UPDATE: For a great story about a survivor of the Yorktown’s loss, see Port Charlotte man survived the Yorktown’s sinking at Battle of Midway. Wilbur Kinney had a carrier torpedoed out from under him by the Japanese in the Pacific and a carrier torpedoed out from under him by the Germans in the Atlantic. Astounding.

(FWIW, the Wasp was not at the battle of Midway as he claims. The Wasp didn’t transfer to the Pacific until 10 June 1942. One other nit to pick is that it wasn’t a “seagoing tug” towing Yorktown back to Midway, but rather the minesweeper USS Verio towing her back to Pearl.)

Despite these minor quibbles, be sure to read Kinney’s account. Astounding. (Did I say that already?)

cross-posted to Winds of Change, where I wrote:

The loss of USS Yorktown was tragic, but penauts compared to the defeat suffered by the Japanese. The tide of the war in the Pacific was turned in the time it took a few squadrons of American dive bombers to make their runs on this day 64 years ago.

UPDATE 2: Jay Tea at Wizbang has a Midway post up. Should have known Murdoc could count on him…

UPDATE 3: A commenter at Wizbang recommends Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan by Mitsuo Fuchida and Masatake Okumiya. Note the authors. Fuchida led the first wave in the attack on Pearl Harbor but missed the battle of Midway due to appendicitis. He witnessed the whole thing from the Japanese carrier Akagi, though. I’ve had the book for a couple of years but have been unable to get to it.

Another that I’d reccomend if you can get hold of it would be George Gay’s Sole Survivor. Gay was the only survivor of Torpedo Squadron 8 at Midway.

My favorite remains Incredible Victory by Walter Lord. I read it in the seventh grade and was a changed person. Really.

UPDATE 4: Blue Crab Boulevard lists the men of Torpedo 8 and Donald Sensing posts on Midway, too. He points out his most-excellent post from a couple of years ago, to boot.


  1. Great picture. Haven’t seen it before either. BTW, one of the great thrills in my life was meeting the late George Gay of Torpedo Eight in 1979, and getting an autographed copy of his book. I was blown away by the fact that, after Midway, he continued flying combat in Avengers during the Guadalcanal campaign. Instead of being intimidated by his ‘sole Survivor’ status, he wanted ‘to get even with the Japs’ for what they had done to his Squadron.

  2. A guy that I work with met Gay at an air show some time back and lent me his book ‘Sole Survivor’. I think it was probably about the same time you met him, IIRC. Good stuff and highly recommended.

  3. Do try to make the time to read Fuchida’s and Okumiya’s book. It’s probably the best account of Midway you’ll get from the Japanese point of view.

  4. A relatively new book is out about Midway, called Shattered Sword. It builds on some of the more recent research, particularly concerning Japanese carrier doctrine and operations. I strongly recommend it. I have read both Fuchida and Incredible Victory, and in my opinion this book is a much more balanced book. It is focused mostly on the Japanese side of the battle. John Lundstrum’s book, The First Team, is devoted to the first six months of the war. Its section on Midway is also very good. It is primarily focused to the American side of the fight. The authors of both of these books were able to conduct many interviews of survivors; unfortunately, they may be the last major books to be able to do so.

  5. Do try to make the time to read Fuchida’s and Okumiya’s book. It’s probably the best account of Midway you’ll get from the Japanese point of view.’ Actually Shattered Sword dispels a lot of the myths created by Fuchida who, in Japanese circles, is noted for his, um, extemporizations. He exagerated most of the facts that ‘everybody knows’ about the battle. Concur with the assessment of The First Team as well. It and ‘The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign’ are excellent evaluations of US Navy fighter squadrons in the early part of the war. My first read of Midway was ‘The Battle of Midway’ by Irving Werstein. I read it many years ago when I was about 8. The book was a juvenile history of the battle, and pretty standard stuff. I have been hooked on US and Japanese carrier aviation ever since (about 46 years).