Battle of Midway
|Battle of Midway|
|Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II|
|SBDs approach the burning Mikuma (Center).|
U.S. Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber at Midway
|United States||Empire of Japan|
Frank J. Fletcher,
Raymond A. Spruance
|Isoroku Yamamoto, |
~50 support ships,
233 carrier aircraft,
127 land-based aircraft
|Four carriers, |
~150 support ships,
248 carrier aircraft,
|1 carrier and 1 destroyer sunk,
|4 carriers and 1 cruiser sunk, |
|Pacific campaigns 1941-42|
|Pearl Harbor – Thailand – Malaya – Wake – Hong Kong – Philippines – Dutch East Indies – New Guinea – Singapore – Australia – Indian Ocean – Doolittle Raid – Solomons – Coral Sea – Midway|
The Battle of Midway was a naval battle of the Pacific Theater of World War II. It took place from June 4 to June 7, 1942, only one month after the inconclusive Battle of the Coral Sea, and six months after the Japanese Empire's attack on Pearl Harbor that had led to the entry of the United States into World War II. During the battle, the United States Navy defeated a Japanese attack against Midway Atoll (located northwest of Hawaii), and destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers in the process. By putting an end to early-war Japanese expansion, permanently damaging Japan's elite carrier force, and allowing the U.S. Navy to seize the strategic initiative, it represented the turning point in the Pacific War, and is widely seen as the most important naval battle of the war.
The Japanese plan of attack on Midway, which also included a secondary attack against points in the Aleutian Islands by a smaller fleet, was a ploy by the Japanese to lure America's few remaining carriers into a trap and destroy them. Doing so would effectively finish off the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and guarantee Japanese naval supremacy in the Pacific until at least late 1943. Likewise, securing Midway would extend Japan's defensive perimeter further from the Japanese Home Islands. The success of this operation was also considered preparatory for further operations against Fiji and Samoa, as well as an anticipated invasion of Hawaii. Had the Japanese achieved their objective at Midway, the northeastern Pacific Rim would have been essentially defenseless against the Japanese Navy. Thus, the Midway operation, like the attack on Pearl Harbor that plunged the United States into war, was not part of a campaign for the conquest of the United States mainland, but was instead aimed at the elimination of the U.S. as a strategic power in the Pacific, thereby giving Japan a free hand in establishing its regional dominance under the auspices of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. In the best of circumstances, it was also hoped that the Americans would be forced to the negotiating table to terminate the Pacific War. As it happened, however, the battle was a crushing strategic defeat for the Japanese.
- 1 Strategic context
- 2 U.S. Intelligence
- 3 Prelude to Battle
- 4 The Battle
- 5 Aftermath
- 6 Impact
- 7 Discovery
- 8 In film
- 9 See also
- 10 Sources and further reading
- 11 Notes
Japan had been highly successful in rapidly securing its initial war aims, including the reduction of the Philippines, the capture of Malaysia and Singapore, and the securing of the vital resource areas in Java, Borneo, and Indonesia. As such, preliminary planning for a second phase of operations commenced as early as January 1942. However, due to strategic differences between the Imperial Army and Imperial Navy, as well as infighting between the Navy's GHQ and Admiral Yamamoto's Combined Fleet, the formulation of effective strategy was hampered, and the follow-on strategy was not finalized until April 1942. At that time, Admiral Yamamoto succeeded in winning a bureaucratic struggle that placed his operational concept — that of further operations in the Central Pacific — ahead of the other contending plans. These included operations either directly or indirectly aimed against Australia, as well as operations into the Indian Ocean. However, in the end, Yamamoto's barely-veiled threat to resign unless he got his way succeeded in carrying his agenda forward.
Yamamoto's primary strategic concern was the elimination of America's remaining carrier forces. This concern was exacerbated by the "Doolittle Raid" on Tokyo (April 18 1942) by U.S. Army B-25's staging off the carrier USS Hornet. The Raid, while negligibly effective militarily, was a severe psychological shock to the Japanese, and demonstrated that their military could not prevent attacks against the Japanese home islands. Destroying America's aircraft carriers was the only means of nullifying this threat. Yamamoto reasoned that an operation aimed at the main carrier base at Pearl Harbor would induce them to fight. However, given enhanced American land-based airpower now on Hawaii, Yamamoto judged that the battle could not be fought directly against the powerful American base. Instead, he selected the atoll of Midway, which lay at the extreme northwest end of the Hawaiian Island chain, some 1300 nm (2400 km) from Oahu. Midway itself was not especially important in the larger scheme of Japan's intentions; however, the Japanese felt that the Americans would consider Midway a vital outpost of Pearl Harbor, and would therefore strongly defend it.
As was typical of many Japanese naval plans during the Second World War, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's battle plan was quite complex. Additionally, his designs were predicated on optimistic intelligence information suggesting that Enterprise and Hornet, forming Task Force 16, were the only carriers available to the US Pacific forces at the time. Lexington had been sunk and Yorktown had been severely mauled (and was believed sunk) at the Battle of the Coral Sea just a month earlier. Likewise, the Japanese believed that Saratoga was undergoing repairs on the West Coast after taking torpedo damage. As such, the Japanese believed that they would have at most two American fleet carriers to deal with at the point of attack.
More important, however, was Yamamoto's belief that the Americans had been demoralized by their frequent defeats during the preceding six months. Yamamoto felt that deception would be required to lure the U.S. Fleet into a fatally compromising situation. As such, he dispersed his forces such that the full extent of his forces (particularly his battleships) would be unlikely to be discovered by the Americans prior to the decisive battle. Unfortunately for the Japanese, their emphasis on stealth and dispersal meant that none of their formations was mutually supporting. Critically, Yamamoto's supporting Main Body of battleships and cruisers would trail Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's carrier Striking Force by several hundred miles. Japan's heavy surface forces were intended to destroy whatever part of the U.S. Fleet might come to Midway's relief, once Nagumo's carriers had weakened them sufficiently for a daylight gun duel to be fought. However, their distance from Nagumo's carriers would have grave implications during the battle.
Likewise, the Japanese operations aimed at the Aleutian Islands (Operation AL) removed yet more ships from the force that would strike at Midway. However, whereas prior histories of the battle have often characterized the Aleutians operation as a feint designed to draw American forces northwards, recent scholarship on the battle has shown that Operation AL was no such thing. In fact, according to the original Japanese battle plan, Operation AL was designed to be launched simultaneously with the initiation of operations against Midway itself. However, a 1-day delay in the sailing of Nagumo's task force had the effect of initiating Operation AL a day before its counterpart. In any event, Operation AL was a misguided expenditure of offensive assets that could have been better used in the south.
The Military Forces
U.S. naval intelligence (in cooperation with the British and Dutch) had been reading parts of the primary Imperial Japanese Navy communications system (JN-25, an enciphered code) for some time, and had made considerable progress on the latest version, which had been issued just before the Pearl Harbor attack. The abundance of radio intelligence harvested from the Japanese Navy’s "wild-goose chase" of the Doolittle Raid task force further compromised JN-25.
Thus, by early May 1942, the Americans knew that the Japanese were preparing to launch a massive offensive against an objective (identifed as "AF" in early June), and could hope to ambush them. Through analysis of other evidence, Station Hypo, Nimitz's cryptology unit at Pearl Harbor, was convinced that "AF" was Midway. On the other hand, Nimitz's superior in Washington, Admiral Ernest King, and his own crypto unit — OP-20-G — believed AF to be in the Aleutian Islands.
An ingenious suggestion by Hypo's commander, Commander Joseph J. Rochefort, gave Admiral Nimitz confirmation of AF's identity. By secure undersea cable, Rochefort asked the Midway base commander to radio a message back to Pearl Harbor stating that drinking water was running low on Midway due to a breakdown of the water plant — and to use a cipher known to have been compromised by the Japanese. Soon after, a deciphered Japanese JN-25 intercept stated that "AF" had fresh-water problems, and that the attack force should plan accordingly. "AF" was therefore confirmed to be Midway. Further information from JN-25 decrypts came in slowly, partly as a result of the hurried nature of Japanese preparations, and it was not until the very last minute that CINCPAC Admiral Chester Nimitz had enough information to put together an ambush for the Midway attack force.
Prelude to Battle
In order to do battle with an enemy force anticipated to be composed of 4-5 carriers, Nimitz needed every available U.S. flight deck. He already had Vice Admiral William Halsey's two-carrier task force at hand — but Halsey himself was stricken with psoriasis, and had to be replaced with Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (Halsey's escort commander). Nimitz also hurriedly called back Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher's task force from the South West Pacific Area. They reached Pearl Harbor just in time to provision and re-sortie. Yorktown (CV-5) herself had been severely damaged at the Battle of the Coral Sea, but Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard worked around the clock to patch up the carrier. In 72 hours Yorktown was transformed from a barely-operational wreck, headed for a long stay at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, into a working (if still compromised) aircraft carrier. Her flight deck was patched, whole sections of internal beams were cut out and replaced, and several new squadrons (drawn from carrier Saratoga) were put aboard her. Admiral Nimitz showed total disregard for established procedure in getting his third and last available carrier ready for battle — repairs continued even as Yorktown sortied. Just three days after pulling into drydock at Pearl Harbor, the ship was again under steam, as its band played "California".
Meanwhile, as a result of their participation in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku was in port in Kure (near Hiroshima), waiting for an air group to be brought to her to replace her destroyed planes, while the heavily damaged Shokaku was awaiting drydock and further repairs to damage she received during the battle. Despite the likely availability of sufficient aircraft between the two ships to re-equip Zuikaku with a composite air group, the Japanese made no serious attempt to get her into the forthcoming battle.  Consequently, instead of bringing six heavy carriers into battle, Admiral Nagumo would now only have four.
Japanese strategic scouting arrangements prior to the battle also fell into disarray. A picket line of Japanese submarines was late getting into position, which let the American carriers proceed to their assembly point northeast of Midway (known as "Point Luck") without being detected. An attempt to use 4-engine reconnaissance seaplanes to scout Pearl Harbor prior to the battle (and thereby detect the absence or presence of the American carriers), known as "Operation K", was also thwarted when Japanese submarines assigned to refuel the search aircraft discovered that the refueling point — the hitherto deserted bay off of French Frigate Shoals — was now occupied by American warships. Thus, Japan was deprived of any knowledge concerning the movements of the American carriers immediately before the battle. Japanese radio intercepts also noticed an increase in both American submarine activity and U.S. message traffic volume. This information was in the hands of both Nagumo and Yamamoto prior to the battle. However, Japanese operational plans were not changed in reaction to these disquieting omens. Nimitz, by contrast, had a very good idea of where Nagumo would appear, thanks to his superior signals intelligence.
Initial air attacks
Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo launched his initial attack wave of 108 aircraft at 04:30 on 4 June. At the same time, the Japanese launched seven search aircraft (one of which was launched 30 minutes late), as well as combat air patrol (CAP) fighters. Japanese reconnaissance arrangements were flimsy, with too few aircraft to adequately cover the assigned search areas, and laboring under poor weather conditions to the northeast and east of the task force.
At 06:20, Japanese carrier aircraft bombed and heavily damaged the U.S. base on Midway. Midway-based fighter pilots, many flying obsolete Brewster F2As (British name, Buffalo), made a defense of Midway. American anti-aircraft fire was accurate and intense, damaging many enemy aircraft. The Japanese strike leader, recognizing that the island's strike aircraft had already departed, signaled Nagumo that another mission would be necessary to neutralize the island's defenses before troops could be landed on the 7th.
Having taken off prior to the Japanese attack, American bombers based on Midway made several attacks on the Japanese carrier fleet. These included six TBF Avengers in their first combat operation, and four B-26 Marauders (armed with torpedoes). The Japanese shrugged off these attacks with almost no losses, while destroying all but three of the American bombers.
Admiral Nagumo, in accordance with Japanese carrier operational practices of the time, had kept half of his aircraft in reserve. These comprised two squadrons each of dive-bombers and torpedo bombers. The latter were armed with torpedoes for an antiship strike, should any American warships be located. The dive-bombers were, as yet, unarmed. As a result of the attacks from Midway, as well as the morning flight leader's recommendation regarding the need for a second strike, Admiral Nagumo at 07:15 ordered his reserve planes to be re-armed with general purpose contact bombs for use on land targets. Re-arming had been underway for about 30 minutes, when at 07:40 a scout plane from the cruiser Tone signaled the discovery of a sizable American naval force to the east. Nagumo quickly reversed his re-arming order, and asked the scout plane to ascertain the composition of the American task force.
Nagumo was now in a quandary. Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, leading Carrier Division 2 (Hiryu and Soryu), signaled to Nagumo that he recommended striking immediately with the forces at hand. Nagumo might have had an opportunity to immediately launch some or all of his reserve strike force to attack the American ships. But he had to act quickly, as his Midway strike force would be returning shortly. They would be low on fuel, and carrying wounded crewmen, and would need to land promptly. Spotting his flight decks and launching aircraft would require at least 30–45 minutes to accomplish. Furthermore, by spotting and launching immediately, he would be committing some of his reserve strike aircraft to battle without proper antiship armament. Japanese carrier doctrine preferred fully constituted strikes, and in the absence of a confirmation of whether the American force contained carriers, Nagumo's reaction was cautious. In addition, the impending arrival of yet more American air strikes at 07:53 made Nagumo's window of decision quite short. In the end Nagumo made the fateful decision to wait for his first strike force to land, and then launch the reserve strike force (which would by then be properly armed).
Attacks on the Japanese fleet
Meanwhile, the Americans had already launched their carrier aircraft against the Japanese. Admiral Fletcher, in overall command on board Yorktown, and armed with PBY sighting reports from the early morning, ordered Spruance to launch against the Japanese as soon as was practical. At the urging of Halsey's Chief of Staff, Captain Miles Browning, Spruance commenced launching from his carriers Enterprise and Hornet at 07:00. Fletcher, upon completing his own scouting flights, followed suit at 08:00 from Yorktown. However, American flight deck operations were not nearly as proficient as their enemies' at this point in the war, and the American squadrons were launched in piecemeal fashion, proceeding to the target in several different groups. This diminished the overall impact of the American attacks, and greatly increased their casualties.
American carrier aircraft began attacking the Japanese carrier fleet at 09:20, with first Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8), followed by VT-6 (at 09:40) attacking without fighter support. VT-8 was completely annihilated, and VT-6 nearly so, with no hits against the enemy to show for their efforts. The Japanese CAP, flying the much faster Mitsubishi Zero fighter, made short work of the slow, under-armed American torpedo planes. However, despite their terrible sacrifices, the American torpedo planes indirectly achieved two important results. First, they kept the Japanese off balance, with no ability to prepare and launch their own counterstrike. Second, their attacks had pulled the Japanese combat air patrol out of position — not in terms of altitude (as has commonly been described), but by laterally distorting the CAP coverage over the Japanese fleet. The appearance of a third torpedo plane attack from the SE by VT-3 at 10:00 very quickly drew the majority of the Japanese CAP into the southeast quadrant of the fleet.
By chance, at the same time VT-3 was sighted by the Japanese, two separate formations (comprising three squadrons total) of American SBD Dauntless dive-bombers were approaching the Japanese fleet from the northeast and southwest. These formations, despite having had difficulty in locating the Japanese carriers had now — by sheer luck and some good decision-making on the part of their respective squadron commanders — arrived in a perfect position to attack the Japanese. Armed Japanese strike aircraft filled the hangar decks at the time of the fateful attack, fuel hoses snaking across the decks as refueling operations were hastily completed, and the constant change of ordnance meant that bombs and torpedoes were stacked around the hangars rather than being stowed safely in the magazines. The Japanese carriers were in an extraordinarily vulnerable position.
However, contrary to some accounts of the battle, recent research has demonstrated that the Japanese were not prepared to launch a counterstrike against the Americans at the time they were decisively attacked. Due to the constant flight deck activity associated with combat air patrol operations during the preceding hour, the Japanese had never had an opportunity to spot their reserve strike force for launch. The few aircraft on the Japanese flight decks at the time of the attack were either CAP fighters, or (in the case of Soryu) strike fighters being spotted to augment the CAP.
Beginning at 10:22, Enterprise aircraft attacked carrier Kaga, with Akagi being struck four minutes later. To the north, Yorktown’s aircraft attacked Soryu. Simultaneously, VT-3 was targeting Hiryu, although the American torpedo aircraft again scored no hits. The dive-bombers, however, had better fortune. Within six minutes, the SBDs made their attack runs and left all three of their targets heavily ablaze. Akagi had been hit by one bomb (plus a near miss which caused crucial rudder damage), Soryu by three, and Kaga by at least four and likely more. All three carriers were out of action, and would eventually be abandoned and scuttled.
Subsequent to the air attacks, the American submarine Nautilus (SS-168) fired torpedoes at what her crew thought was the Soryu, but which later research suggests was the Kaga. The Nautilus crew claimed that one torpedo hit the carrier, causing 'flames.' However, the surviving crew of the Kaga reported no torpedo hits after the air attack. Of the four fish fired, one failed to run, two ran erratically, and the fourth was a 'dud,' impacting amidships and breaking in half.
Hiryu, now the sole surviving Japanese flight deck, wasted little time in counterattacking. The first strike of Japanese dive-bombers badly damaged the Yorktown, yet her engineers patched her up so quickly that the second strike of torpedo bombers mistook her for an intact carrier. Despite Japanese hopes to even the battle by eliminating two carriers with two strikes, Yorktown absorbed both Japanese attacks. She was now out of the battle, but Task Force 16's two carriers had escaped undamaged as a result. [Yorktown would later be sunk during salvage efforts by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine on June 7. The same torpedo salvo sank the destroyer Hammann] When American scout aircraft subsequently located Hiryu later in the afternoon, the Enterprise and Hornet launched a final dusk strike of dive bombers against the last Japanese carrier that left her ablaze.
As darkness fell, both sides took stock, and made tentative plans for continuing the action. Admiral Spruance was now in tactical command of the American forces as Admiral Fletcher had been obliged to abandon the derelict Yorktown. Spruance knew that he had won a great victory, but he was still unsure of what Japanese forces remained at hand, and was determined to safeguard both Midway and his carriers. Consequently, he decided to retire east during the evening, so as to not run into a night action with Japanese surface forces that might still be in the area. In the early morning hours, he returned to the west to be in a position to cover Midway should an invasion develop in the morning.
For his part, Yamamoto initially decided to continue the effort, and sent his remaining surface forces searching eastward for the American carriers. Simultaneously, a cruiser raiding force was detached to bombard the island that very night. Eventually, however, as the night waned without any sign of the Americans, the reality of the situation imposed its own logic, and at 02:55 Yamamoto ordered his various forces to retire to the west.
While beating its retreat in close column at night, the Japanese cruiser bombardment force suffered a further trial. A sighting of the American submarine Tambor forced the cruiser formation to initiate radical evasive maneuvers. Mogami failed to adjust its course correctly for a column turn, and rammed the port quarter of her sistership Mikuma. Over the following two days, first Midway and then Spruance's carriers launched several successive strikes against the stragglers. Mikuma was eventually sent to the bottom, while Mogami managed to successfully fend off the bombers, and lived to fight another day. US Marine Captain Richard E. Fleming was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his attack on the Mikuma, although contemporary research has revealed that neither Fleming's bomb nor his aircraft actually struck the ship itself.
Having scored a clear victory, American forces retired. Japan's loss of four fleet carriers (Kaga, Akagi, Soryu, and Hiryu) — leaving only Zuikaku and Shokaku — stopped the expansion of the Japanese Empire in the Pacific.
With the US Navy now having clawed its way back to a rough parity of fleet carriers, the Americans could contemplate taking to the offensive for the first time in the war. Shortly thereafter, the Americans would invade Guadalcanal, initiating the attritional struggle in the Solomon Islands that would permanently wreck the Japanese Navy and its elite naval air groups.
Assessing the impact of the battle requires careful analysis. Although the battle has often been called "decisive", and a "turning point", it clearly did not win the Pacific War overnight for the Americans. The Japanese navy continued to fight ferociously, and it would be many more months before the U.S. would move from a state of naval parity to that of increasingly clear supremacy. Nor, given the vast disparity in economic strength between the two combatants, is it even remotely likely that the Americans would have lost the war against Japan had they lost the battle. Thus, Midway was not "decisive" in the same sense that Salamis or Trafalgar were decisive. However, victory at Midway gave the U.S. the opportunity to seize the strategic initiative, inflicted irreparable damage on the Japanese carrier force, and shortened the war in the Pacific.
While Midway did not see the destruction of Japanese naval aviation, it did deal it a heavy blow. The pre-war Japanese training program produced pilots of exceptional quality, but at a painfully slow rate. This small group of elite aviators were combat hardened veterans. At Midway, the Japanese lost as many of these pilots in a single day as their pre-war training program produced in a year. In the subsequent battles around Guadalcanal in late 1942, such as Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz, Japanese naval aviation would be ground down in a war of attrition. Although war-time Japanese training programs produced a sufficient number of pilots, they were of lower quality. By mid-1943, the combination of the Battle of Midway and the agony of combat in the Solomons had decimated Japanese naval aviation.
Even more important, though, was the irredeemable loss of four of Japan's fleet carriers. These ships would not be replaced, unit for unit, until early in 1945. In the same span of time, the U.S. Navy would commission more than two-dozen fleet and light fleet carriers, and numerous escort carriers. Thus, Midway permanently damaged the Japanese Navy's striking power, and measurably shortened the window of time during which the Japanese carrier force could expect to offer battle on advantageous terms.
The importance of the Battle of Midway can also be assessed by examining the counter-factual of assuming the destruction of the US aircraft carrier fleet, although this is a speculative exercise at best. By any analysis, it seems clear that a loss at Midway would have prolonged the war in the Pacific, as it would have delayed the initiation of large-scale attritional combat that was the only means to bring a modern industrialized power like Japan to its knees. Likewise, had the U.S. lost, it is arguable that re-allocation of air and naval resources might have delayed amphibious operations in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and perhaps at Normandy. However, a loss at Midway would likely not have reversed President Roosevelt’s commitment to a Europe first policy, which had been reiterated in the wake of naval disaster at Pearl Harbor. A hypothetically longer war in the Pacific also raises the question of the ultimate role of the Soviet Union in forcing Japan's demise, and whether the USSR would have thereby received a post-war presence in a partitioned Japan, á la that of postwar Germany. The actual implications of an American defeat, therefore, are unknowable, but there is little question that losing at Midway would have narrowed U.S. options in the Pacific dramatically, at least in the short term.
Due to the extreme depth of the ocean in the area of the battle (more than 17,000 feet/5200 m), researching the battlefield has presented extraordinary difficulties. However, on May 19, 1998, Robert Ballard and a team of scientists and Midway veterans (including Japanese participants) succeeded in locating and photographing Yorktown. The ship is remarkably intact for a vessel that sank in 1942; much of the original equipment, and even the original paint scheme are still visible. Ballard's subsequent efforts to locate the Japanese carriers were unsuccesful. However, in September 1999, a joint expedition between Nauticos Corp. and the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office arrived on the battlefield, searching in particular for the Japanese aircraft carriers. Using advanced renavigation techniques in conjunction with the ship's log of the submarine USS Nautilus, the expedition succeeded in locating a large piece of wreckage. This wreckage was subsequently identified as having come from the upper hangar deck of carrier Kaga. The main wreck, however, has yet to be located.
The Battle of Midway has been featured in several motion pictures. The first film about the battle was directed John Ford, who used color motion picture from U.S. Navy of the actual battle, releasing an award-winning documentary called Battle of Midway in 1942. Subsequently, the movie Midway, directed by Jack Smight, was released in 1976. This film generally portrayed the events fairly accurately, although it was critized for suffering from several flaws (including a preposterous romance, the presence of American F4U Corsair fighters (which were not even operational yet), inaccurate warship models, and the promotion of Hypo's Commander Rochefort to Fleet Intelligence Officer).
Sources and further reading
- Cook, Theodore F., Jr. (2000). “Our Midway Disaster”, Robert Cowley (ed.): What if?. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0333751833. Counterfactual history has the Japanese winning.
- Fuchida, Mitsuo, Masatake Okumiya (1955). Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan, the Japanese Navy's Story. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870213725. A Japanese account, colored by hindsight and sometimes inaccurate.
- Hanson, Victor D. (2001). Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power. Doubleday. ISBN 0385500521.
- Hara, Tameichi (1961). Japanese Destroyer Captain. ISBN 0-345-27894-1. First-hand account by Japanese captain.
- Kahn, David. The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet. Scribner. ISBN 0684831309. Significant section on Midway
- Kernan, Alvin (2005). The Unknown Battle of Midway. Yale University Press. ISBN 030010989X. An account of the blunders that led to the near total destruction of the American torpedo squadrons, and of what the author calls a cover-up by naval officers after the battle.
- Lord, Walter (1967). Incredible Victory. Burford. ISBN 1580800599. Focuses primarily on the human experience of the battle.
- Morison, Samuel E. (1949). Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions: May 1942–August 1942. (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 4) official US history.
- Parshall, Jonathan, Tully, Anthony (2005). Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books. ISBN 1574889230. Uses recent Japanese sources.
- Prange, Gordon W., Goldstein, Donald M., and Dillon, Katherine V. (1982). Miracle at Midway. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0070506728. The standard academic history of the battle based on massive research into American and Japanese sources.
- Wilmott, H.P. (1983). The Barrier and the Javelin. United States Naval Institute Press. Broad-scale history of the naval war.
- The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway, according to US Naval Intelligence
- Battle of Midway Movie (1942) - US Navy propaganda film directed by John Ford.
- Naval Historical Center Midway Page.
- Schlesinger, James R., "Midway in Retrospect: The Still Under-Appreciated Victory", June 5, 2005. (An analysis by former Secretary of Defense Schlesinger.) Available from the Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy.
- WW2DB: The Battle of Midway
- Animated History of The Battle of Midway
- Midway Chronology 1
- Midway Chronology 2
- Dull, The Imperial Japanese Navy: A Battle History, p. 166; Willmott, The Barrier and the Javelin, pp. 519-523; Prange, Miracle at Midway p. 395; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 416-430
- H.P. Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin; Lundstrom, First South Pacific Campaign; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 19-38
- For a detailed discussion of anticipated follow-on Hawaiian operations, see Parshall & Tully, pp. 43-45
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 33
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 13-15, 21-23; Willmott, The Barrier and the Javelin, pp. 39-49; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 22-38
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 33; Prange, Miracle at Midway, p. 23
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 22-26
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 33
- Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin, pp. 66-67; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 33-34
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 375-379, Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin, pp. 110-117; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 52
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 53, derived from Japanese War History Series (Senshi Sōshō), Volume 43 ('Midowei Kaisen'), p. 118
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 51, 55;
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 43-45, derived from Senshi Sōshō, p. 196
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 43-45, derived from Senshi Sōshō, pp. 119-121.
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 17-20, 73-74
- Lundstrom, First South Pacific Campaign, pp. 150-155
- Lundstrom, First South Pacific Campaign, p. 155
- Cressman et. al., A Glorious Page in Our History, p. 34
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 80-81; Cressman et. al., A Glorious Page in Our History, p. 37
- Cressman et. al., A Glorious Page in Our History, pp. 37-45; Lord, Incredible Victory, pp. 37-39
- Lord, Incredible Victory, p. 39
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 65-67
- Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin, p. 351; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 98-99
- Lord, Incredible Victory, pp. 37-39; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 99
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 102-104
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 107-112; 132-133
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 200-204
- Lord, Incredible Victory, p. 110; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 149
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 207-212; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 149-152
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 130-132
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 216-217; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 159-161
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 165-170
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 121-124
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 217-218, 372-373; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 170-173
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 231-237; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 170-173
- Cressman et. al., A Glorious Page in Our History, pp. 84-89; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 215-216; 226-227
- Cressman et. al., "A Glorious Page in Our History," pp. 91-94
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 215-216; 226-227
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 226-227
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, pp. 259-261, 267-269; Cressman et. al., A Glorious Page in Our History, pp. 96-97; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 215-216; 226-227
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 250
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 229-231. Derived from (Senshi Sōshō), Volume 43, pp. 372-378, and the tabulated air group records (kōdōchōshos) of the Japanese carriers contained in "Midway Operation:DesRon 10,Mine Sweep Div 16,CV Akagi,CV Kaga,CVL Sōryū, and CVL Hiryū." Extract Translation from DOC No.160985B—MC 397.901.
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 231, derived from Senshi Sosho, pp. 372-378.
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 253-354; 256-259
- Recent scholarship has shown that all four Japanese carriers were scuttled, not just Akagi and Hiryu. Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 330-353
- Lord, Incredible Victory p. 213; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 302-303
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, p. 324
- Prange, Miracle at Midway, p. 320; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, p. 345
- Dull, p. 166; Prange, p. 395
- Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin, pp. 522-523; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 416-430
- U.S. Naval War College Analysis, p. 1; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 416-430
- Peattie, Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909-1941, pp. 181-184, 191-192
- Peattie, Sunburst, pp. 131-134
- Peattie, Sunburst, pp. 176-186; Eric Bergerud, Fire in the Sky, p. 668.
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 416-421
- Carrier Shinano, commissioned on 19 November, 1944, was the fourth fleet carrier commissioned by Japan during the war, after Taiho, Unryu, and Amagi.
- See http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/carriers/ for a listing of all American carriers commissioned during the war. Also refer to http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm for a tabulation of aggregate carrier and carrier aircraft levels between the USN and IJN if the U.S. had lost at Midway.
- Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin, pp. 519-523; Prange,Miracle at Midway 396-397; Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 424-430
- Parshall & Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 491-493
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