The Battle of Midway was a naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II. It took place from June 4, 1942 to June 7, 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, about five months after the Japanese capture of Wake Island, and six months after the Empire of Japan‘s attack on Pearl Harbor that had led to a formal state of war between the United States and Japan. During the battle, the United States Navy defeated a Japanese attack against Midway Atoll (located northwest of Hawaii) and destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers and a heavy cruiser while losing a carrier and a destroyer.
The battle was a decisive victory for the Americans, widely regarded as the most important naval engagement of World War II. The battle permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), particularly through the loss of over 200 naval aviators.
Both nations sustained losses in the battle, but industrially
outstripped by America, Japan was unable to reconstitute its naval
forces while the American shipbuilding program provided quick
replacements. Strategically, the U.S. Navy was able to seize the initiative in the Pacific and go on the offensive.
The Japanese plan of attack was to lure America’s few remaining carriers into a trap and sink them.
The Japanese also intended to occupy Midway Atoll to extend Japan’s
defensive perimeter farther from its home islands. This operation was
considered preparatory for further attacks against Fiji and Samoa, as well as an invasion of Hawaii.
The Midway operation, like the attack on Pearl Harbor
that had plunged the United States into war, was not part of a campaign
for the conquest of the United States but was aimed at its elimination
as a strategic Pacific power, thereby giving Japan a free hand in
establishing its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It was also hoped that another defeat would force the U.S. to negotiate an end to the Pacific War with conditions favorable for Japan.
The Battle of Midway, 1942
Eyewitness account of the pivotal battle of World War II in the Pacific.
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