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The Battle of Midway

This section of is devoted to the dramatic, history-turning Battle of Midway.

Introduction to the Battle of Midway

In the Coral Sea the U.S. Navy checked the Japanese; in the Battle of Midway, June 3-6, 1942, it defeated them. The battle marked an important turning point in the war in the Pacific.

Two American task forces under Rear Admirals Raymond A. Spruance and Frank J. Fletcher, assisted by planes based on Midway Island, intercepted and outfought a large enemy naval force in the vicinity of Midway, which the Japanese had intended to seize. This was a battle in which planes did all the attacking.

The Japanese lost 4 carriers, a heavy cruiser, 3 destroyers, some 275 planes, at least 4,800 men, and suffered heavy damage among the remaining vessels of their fleet. American losses included on carrier, the Yorktown, a destroyer, about 150 planes, and 307 men.

After the Japanese broke off the engagement, part of their task force moved northward and seized three of the Aleutian Islands. Japan's losses, both at the Coral Sea and Midway, did much to restore the balance of naval power in the Pacific, and the Japanese never fully recovered from the loss of many of their best naval pilots in the two battles.

[The primary source for this text is the U.S. Army Center for Military History. For a more general overview of the Battle of Midway and the war in the Pacific, see the Brief History of WWII e-text, and especially the page entitled "The Tide Turns."]

Features Related to the Battle of Midway

Battle Of Wits

Our central feature here is a section from a book by Stephen Budiansky entitled "Battle Of Wits: The Complete Story Of Codebreaking In World War II." In this section, Budiansky engagingly examines how codebreaking enabled the decisive Midway victory.

We've converted Budiansky's original text into sub-sections so that it's easy to read online. Click here to start reading or jump to any one of the sub-sections below.

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