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#4644242 - 03/24/24 06:42 PM Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway  
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Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway


I have only started reading this book earlier in the week. I've already learned quite a bit. I'm going to use this thread as sort of a "note taking" exercise for myself and anyone who is interested.

There was considerable discussion in the Japanese upper ranks on what to do next in early 1942. The Imperial Army wanted to concentrate on China, they opposed expanding the Pacific perimeter to the east as doing so would require many more troops to fortify any newly captured territory. The Imperial Navy was bent on drawing out and fighting a "decisive battle" with the US Navy, achieving a great victory that would (they believed) force the US to negotiate an end to hostilities.

There was much behind the scenes fighting over these opposing views. Yamamoto threatened resignation a couple of times to get his way. The Doolittle Raid also did much to help Yamamoto get his plans, drawing out the US Navy at Midway for the decisive battle, approved. So much so that there was actually plans, after the inevitable (to the Japanese) victory at Midway, to invade and occupy Hawaii in September 1942 and then Northern Australia later in the year. How this could happen with the bulk of the Imperial Army remaining in China, and opposite Russian in Manchuria, isn't explained.

The Japanese carrier force at Midway was planned to have at least 5 Fleet carriers instead of only the 4 that did participate. Zuikaku was to have been part of the Mobile Fleet but her air group was severely depleted at Coral Sea. Shōkaku was damaged at Coral Sea and needed about 2 months worth of repairs. Yamamoto astonishingly never considered consolidating the pilots and aircraft of these 2 carriers air groups and putting them aboard Zuikaku for Midway.... the IJN kept air groups and carriers together as a unit.

Also, the 4 IJN carriers that did join the Midway operation had only 85% of their full complement of aircraft. They did carry about 20 extra Zeroes, and their pilots, that were to be flown ashore to the Midway once the island was captured. But those pilots were not all fully carrier qualified and wouldn't take part in the initial battle. The IJN was already suffering aircraft shortages as production of both the Kate torpedo/horizontal bomber and the Val dive bomber had ENDED. New models to replace them were in the works but not ready, the production lines for the Kate and Val had to be reopened. IJN cruisers, whose float planes were used for scouting, also did not have their full compliment of aircraft.

The 3 US carriers that would meet the 4 Japanese carriers would actually have a slight numerical advantage in aircraft, not even counting the US aircraft stationed on Midway.




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#4644277 - 03/25/24 01:23 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Interesting tidbit.

Admiral King was convinced the IJN would move in the South Pacific next rather than Midway in the Central Pacific. This was before code breakers had definitively identified Midway as their objective. He therefore ordered Nimitz to keep Hornet and Enterprise in the Coral Sea area after the battle. Wanting an excuse to return these carriers to Pearl Harbor Nimitz sent an "eyes only" message to Halsey, commanding TF 16, ordering him to intentionally expose his force to Japanese search planes. The Japanese sighting was then picked up by US code breakers and Nimitz used the carriers being located by the IJN as an excuse to cancel their mission there and return to Pearl.


It wasn't just the Japanese involved in interpersonal intrigue!


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#4644282 - 03/25/24 03:46 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Japanese knowledge of the disposition of US carriers was dependent upon 2 plans: overflight of Pearl Harbor by long range flying boat prior to the attack on Midway and a line of submarines posted between Hawaii and Midway.

The flying boat would have to refuel from a IJN sub after landing at French Frigate Shoals west of Hawaii, it didn't have the range for a full round trip. But the sub that would provide the fuel found American ships anchored at French Frigate Shoals and that mission had to be scrubbed. This story is pretty well known.

The IJN subs that were to keep watch for US ship movement west out of Hawaii are an entirely different matter. From the start little effort or planning was put into this part of the plan. The Vice Admiral in charge of IJN subs, Komatsu, was preoccupied with post Midway victory matters such as attacking the Panama Canal or bombarding California. The subs assigned to the task were old and slated to be turned over to the training command. They were scheduled to arrive on the picket line by June 1st but most didn't arrive until June 3rd, by which time US carriers had already passed on the way to Midway. Post battle all of these short comings came to light, but Komatsu being related to the Imperial family protected him from any fallout.


"In the vast library of socialist books, there’s not a single volume on how to create wealth, only how to take and “redistribute” it.” - David Horowitz
#4644310 - 03/26/24 03:51 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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IJN naval anti aircraft capabilities were worse than I imagined.

No IJN destroyer present with Nagumos carriers had a true dual capability main battery. Their 5" guns were optimized for surface fire. While they could elevate high enough (55-75 degrees depending on class) the guns had to depress to around 10 degrees up to reload and traverse speed wasn't sufficient to track high speed aircraft. Rate of fire was therefore low and fire control vs aircraft was wholly inadequate. The IJN destroyers only true AAA gun was its 25mm guns which also suffered from a low effect rate of fire due to the low magazine capacity (15 rds) and short effective range of about 2000 yards.

Likewise carrier mounted AAA guns were poorly located, low on the sides of the ships meaning they could only fire to one side. Nonetheless fully 60% of IJN AAA capacity was located on the carriers themselves.

Also, IJN destroyers (other than one each plane guards assigned to each carrier) were arrayed in a circular formation far from the carriers acting as picket ships to spot incoming enemy aircraft, since no IJN vessel present was equipped with radar.

And the carriers themselves were operating 8000 yards apart, so there was little to no mutual AAA support.

Only 2 US aircraft lost in combat at Midway are known to have been lost to IJN AAA. By comparison SIX were lost to landing.accidents!


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#4644393 - 03/28/24 01:48 AM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Shattered Sword is a wonderful read.


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#4644415 - 03/28/24 04:18 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: Boom]  
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Originally Posted by Boom
Shattered Sword is a wonderful read.



Indeed it is. Probably the most meticulously written and sourced books I have ever read. I have to have 2 bookmarks, one to keep my place in the primary text and another notes at the back which are constantly referenced for more detail. That's really my only complaint, I wish more of the notes content had been worked into the primary text or just put the notes at the bottom of the page that references it, like a Study Bible wink


"In the vast library of socialist books, there’s not a single volume on how to create wealth, only how to take and “redistribute” it.” - David Horowitz
#4644565 - 04/01/24 11:56 AM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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"Shattered Sword" is (for the most part) written in an interesting fashion, as if the reader were aboard one of the Japanese carriers. As such the reader doesn't read about the results of the Japanese strike against Midway or the strikes against American carriers (except for radio messages transmitted back to the their home carrier) until the Japanese aviators make reports once they have returned from their missions.


"In the vast library of socialist books, there’s not a single volume on how to create wealth, only how to take and “redistribute” it.” - David Horowitz
#4644624 - 04/02/24 06:06 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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I was not fully aware of the extent which Nagumo attempted to force a night surface action. After 3 of his 4 carriers were knocked out he raced headlong to the northeast with his 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, a light cruiser and a handful of destroyers (several were detached attending to the burning carriers) with his last carrier, Hiryu, following. Of course this course of action assumed that the US forces were continuing southwest, which they weren't. All he really accomplished was to assure that Hiryu would be located and destroyed.

It's also interesting that all IJN carriers had to be dispatched with torpedoes launched from IJN destroyers. Each burned for 6+ hours before being abandoned and subsequently sunk. Interestingly almost 40 survivors of Hiryu were left behind. They managed to release and board a whaleboat from which the remaining survivors, about 35, were rescued about 2 weeks later by US forces. Apparently at least some of these men requested to remain in the US as they preferred to be thought of as dead in Japan rather than defeated and captured.

Likewise Spruance ended up chasing after the retreating Japanese forces until he was 400 miles west of Midway, roughly 500 miles west of his position at the start of the battle.


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#4644660 - 04/03/24 02:19 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Myths about Midway

Finished reading "Shattered Sword" this morning. This section on dispelling myths about the battle sums up the book pretty well:



"At the time of the decisive American dive-bomber attack at 1020-1025 on 4 June, the Japanese carriers were just minutes away from launching a decisive counterattack against the American carriers." This is categorically not true and is one of the biggest fallacies in the conventional Japanese account. At the time of the decisive attack, the Japanese were at least a half hour away from being able to launch a strike, and few, if any, Japanese attack planes were on deck.


"The Aleutians Operation was an elaborate feint designed to lure the American fleet out of Pearl Harbor." Not true. The simultaneous launch of operations in the Aleutians was designed to capitalize on the Americans being busy elsewhere, so that objectives in the Aleutians could be seized without hindrance. Operation AL was an invasion in its own right, strategically timed, and not merely a diversion.


"During the transit to Midway, Admiral Yamamoto withheld important intelligence from Admiral Nagumo that might have changed the course of the battle. As a result, Nagumo was in the dark concerning the nature of the threat facing him at Midway." Not true. While Yamamoto did not communicate to Nagumo, there was no need to, as Kidō Butai was perfectly capable of independently receiving timely intelligence from the First Communications Unit in Tokyo. Akagi's intelligence estimate before the battle reveals that Nagumo had most of the important pieces of information already in hand. What is less clear is why he did not act on that intelligence.

Had the Japanese implemented a two-phase search plan on the morning of 4 June, they would have succeeded in locating the American fleet in time to win the battle." Perhaps, but in 1942 the Japanese (and Americans) had yet to incorporate the notion of a two-phase search into their doctrine. Such a search plan was never an option, and it was disingenuous for Fuchida Mitsuo to imply that it was.


"The late launch of cruiser Tone's scout plane doomed Admiral Nagumo's efforts to win the battle." Not true. If anything, Tone No. 4's late launch and subsequent improvised search route led to the discovery of the Americans earlier than ought to have been expected. The true failures in scouting during the battle began with the failure of Japan's submarines to arrive on station on time, followed by the abandonment of Operation K, and culminated with Chikuma No. 1's failure to locate the Americans in the 0615 time frame.


“Had Nagumo not decided to rearm his aircraft with land attack weapons, he would have been in a position to attack the Americans as soon as they were discovered." Not true. The reserve strike aircraft were not spotted on the flight deck when the Americans were detected. Given the time required to spot the decks, Nagumo's odds of launching an attack before Tomonaga's return were low at best. The ceaseless American air attacks had destroyed any reasonable possibility of spotting the decks before Tomonaga's return because of the constant launch and recovery of combat air patrol (CAP) fighters.


"The sacrifice of Torpedo Eight was not in vain, since it pulled the Japanese CAP fighters down to sea level, thereby allowing the American dive-bombers to attack." Not true. VT-8's demise happened a full hour before the decisive attack, giving plenty of time for the CAP Zeros to resume their correct stacking had they maintained discipline. Rather, VT-8's contribution was the same as VT-6's-disrupting the counteroffensive activities of the Japanese carriers.



"The Japanese naval air corps was all but wiped out at the Battle of Midway.” Not true. Japanese casualties at Midway amounted to fewer than a quarter of the aviators embarked. Rather, it was the attritional campaign in the Solomons that destroyed the elite corps of Japanese naval aviators.


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#4644661 - 04/03/24 02:34 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Interesting read there with the list of myths about the naval battle!

On a related note, would you say the 1976 film or the recent film from Roland Emmerich is more historically accurate?


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#4644663 - 04/03/24 02:50 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Originally Posted by PanzerMeyer
Interesting read there with the list of myths about the naval battle!

On a related note, would you say the 1976 film or the recent film from Roland Emmerich is more historically accurate?



I wouldn't make much difference in the 2 on historical accuracy of events but I can't watch the 2019 Midway again whereas I find the 1976 version very watchable.

I was telling a buddy a few days ago that I want burn a DVD copy of 1976 Midway to my PC and edit out the silly romance story. Then it will be great wink

As for Emmerichs' CGI-arama.... it's only bright spot, surprisingly was Woody Harrelson as Nimitz. Excellent portrayal I thought. The overdone CGI explosions, silly flight modeling, unprofessional pilot portrayals etc were just nauseating to me.


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#4645182 - 04/13/24 11:04 PM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Originally Posted by F4UDash4
Originally Posted by PanzerMeyer
Interesting read there with the list of myths about the naval battle!

On a related note, would you say the 1976 film or the recent film from Roland Emmerich is more historically accurate?



I wouldn't make much difference in the 2 on historical accuracy of events but I can't watch the 2019 Midway again whereas I find the 1976 version very watchable.

I was telling a buddy a few days ago that I want burn a DVD copy of 1976 Midway to my PC and edit out the silly romance story. Then it will be great wink

As for Emmerichs' CGI-arama.... it's only bright spot, surprisingly was Woody Harrelson as Nimitz. Excellent portrayal I thought. The overdone CGI explosions, silly flight modeling, unprofessional pilot portrayals etc were just nauseating to me.


That comment only reinforces the impression I got from the Trailers of the movie when it first came out. Skipped it at the time and I will definitely continue to avoid wasting my time viewing it, even once.


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#4645222 - 04/15/24 02:47 AM Re: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Emmerich's "Midway" was also a big box office financial flop so I don't think we'll see him go back ot that genre any time soon.


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