A group of F4f Wildcats ready to take off from the USS Hornet during the Battle of Midway (June 2, 1942). The Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, only six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harborand one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the United States Navy under decisively defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy near Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet that proved irreparable.
The Japanese operation, like the earlier attack on Pearl Harbor, sought to eliminate the United States as a strategic power in the Pacific, thereby giving Japan a free hand in establishing its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Japanese hoped another demoralizing defeat would force the U.S. to capitulate in the Pacific War and thus ensure Japanese dominance in the Pacific. Luring the American aircraft carriers into a trap and occupying Midway was part of an overall "barrier" strategy to extend Japan's defensive perimeter, in response to theDoolittle air raid on Tokyo. This operation was also considered preparatory for further attacks against Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii itself.
The plan was handicapped by faulty Japanese assumptions of the American reaction and poor initial dispositions. Most significantly, American cryptographers were able to determine the date and location of the planned attack, enabling the forewarned U.S. Navy to prepare its own ambush. There were seven aircraft carriers involved in the battle and all four of Japan's large aircraft carriers part of the six-carrier force that had attacked Pearl Harbor six months earlier, and a heavy cruiser were sunk, while the U.S. lost only the carrier Yorktown and a destroyer.
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