Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Battle for Midway Island

June 4th 1942

A thousand miles northwest of Honolulu, the strategic island of Midway became the focus of his scheme to smash U.S. resistance to Japan’s imperial designs. Yamamoto’s plan consisted of a feint toward Alaska followed by an invasion of Midway by a Japanese strike force. When the U.S. Pacific Fleet arrived at Midway to respond to the invasion, it would be destroyed by the superior Japanese fleet waiting unseen to the west. If successful, the plan would eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet and provide a forward outpost from which the Japanese could eliminate any future American threat in the Central Pacific.

U.S. intelligence broke the Japanese naval code, however, and the Americans anticipated the surprise attack. In the meantime, 200 miles to the northeast, two U.S. attack fleets caught the Japanese force entirely by surprise and destroyed three heavy Japanese carriers and one heavy cruiser. The only Japanese carrier that initially escaped destruction, the Hiryu, loosing all its aircraft against the American task force and managed to seriously damage the U.S. carrier Yorktown, forcing its abandonment.

At about 5:00 p.m., dive-bombers from the U.S. carrier Enterprise returned the favor, mortally damaging the Hiryu. It was scuttled the next morning. When the Battle of Midway ended, Japan had lost four carriers, a cruiser and 292 aircraft, and suffered an estimated 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft and suffered approximately 300 casualties. Japan’s losses hobbled its naval might–bringing Japanese and American sea power to approximate parity–and marked the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. In August 1942, the great U.S. counteroffensive began at Guadalcanal and did not cease until Japan’s surrender three years later.



IL2 Forgotten Battles: The Battle of Midway;
June 4th 1942 on the carrier Hiryu, a thousand miles northwest of Honolulu, near the strategic island of Midway.
The entire flight was flown from the cockpit and recorded for later playback. When, through the magic of view controls other views of the action are recorded by the screen movie capture program Fraps.
What an exciting game! IL2

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Scramble the F4F Wildcats our Carrier's Under Attack



Fresh from their successes in the Indian Ocean, the Japanese decided (unwisely) to extend their defensive perimeter outwards from their main forward base of Rabaul, in New Britain. Accordingly, they put together two invasion forces; one intending to land troops at Port Moresby, on the southern tip of New Guinea, and a second to put troops ashore on the island of Tulagi, in the southern Solomons. Simultaneously, a powerful screening force centered on the carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku was dispatched from Truk to prevent any interference from any Allied naval forces that might be in the area. As it turned out, the carriers Lexington and Yorktown were in the Coral Sea, the Americans having been alerted to the likelihood of such a Japanese move by radio intelligence. What followed was the first true carrier vs. carrier battle, where neither task force actually came within sight of each other, and the issue was decided entirely by aircraft. The results of the affair was probably a tactical victory for the Japanese, as they managed to sink the heavy carrier Lexington, heavily damage the Yorktown, and sink a destroyer and an oiler. For their part, the Americans managed to achieve their first substantial warship kill against the Japanese Navy by sinking the light carrier Shoho. They also severely damaged the Shokaku. From a strategic perspective, though, the Americans scored an important, multi-dimensional victory. First, the invasion of Port Moresby was thwarted, thus boosting Allied chances in the bitterly fought New Guinea campaign, and fending off a threat to the supply lines running between the US and Australia. Second, and perhaps equally important, the Japanese were denied the services of their two newest carriers on the eve of the Battle of Midway (although it is debatable whether they would have been used there). Shokaku was in the shop for quite a while, and Zuikaku spent until June 12 replenishing her airwings. Had these two carriers been available on June 4th, things might well have turned out very differently at Midway.


 

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