Mitsubishi Zero: Japan's Legendary Fighter by Smith Peter C

Mitsubishi Zero: Japan's Legendary Fighter by Smith Peter C

Author:Smith, Peter C [Smith, Peter C]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Tags: Bic Code 1: HBWQ, HISTORY / Military / Aviation, Bisac Code 1: HIS027140
ISBN: 9781473846777
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Published: 2014-11-29T16:00:00+00:00

The strike on Midway

The A6M strength of twenty-seven fighters for the attack on Midway comprised nine from Akagi under Lieutenant Aya-o Shirane, with Petty Officers Seiji Ishii, Shinaji Iwama, Yōzō Kawada, Tetsuo Kikuchi, Koreo Kimura, Sakae Mori, Shigetaka Ōmori and Seaman 1st Class Masahi Ishida; nine from Kaga led by Lieutenant Masao Iisuka with Petty Officers Hiromi Itō, Tsugo Ogiwara, Kiyonobu Suzuki, Matsutaro Takaoka, Yoshikazu Nagahama and Seamen 1st Class Ei-ichi Takahashi, Matsutaro Takaoka and Yoshio Egawa; nine from Hiryū commanded by Yasuhiro Shigematsu, leading Petty Officers Yutaka Chiyōshima, Toshiaki Harada, Kazuo Muranaka, Haruo Nitta, Takaaki Satō, Michisuke Tokuda, Warrant Officer Yoshijirō Minegishi and Seaman 1st Class Shigeru Hayashi; and nine from Sōryū led by Lieutenant Masaji Suganami, with Ensign Hira Tanaka, Petty Officers Nobutoshi Furukawa, Iwao Mira, Mitsuomi Noda, Kyoichirō Ogino, Takeo Sugiyama, Kaname Yoshimatsu and Seaman 1st Class Yoshio Iwabuchi. They were escorting thirty-six Aichi D3A dive-bombers, half each from Akagi and Kaga, and thirty-six Nakajima B5N bombers in their Attack mode armed with bombs from Shōkakū and Zuikaku. The entire air striking force was under overall command of Lieutenant Jōichi Tomonaga, the hikōtaichō of the Hiryū. This mass commenced lifting off from each of the four carriers at 0426 and by 0445, so efficient was the Japanese launch procedure, they were en route to the south-east and Midway Atoll. Behind them they left the first elements of an eleven A6M CAP preparing for their first stint in what was to prove a very busy and eventful day.

The American defenders meanwhile had also been astir early. Captain Cyril Thomas Simard ordered his heavy aircraft into the air to conduct searches. Twenty-two PBYs and fifteen B-17s were got away; there was certainly to be no repeat of the Philippines fiasco at Midway if he could avoid it. When the PBYs began reporting the incoming Japanese strike from 0530 onward, the remaining Midway aircraft were not ordered into the air twenty minutes later. At 0600 they hustled into the air from the crowded runways and by 0610 all had likewise departed clawing to gain altitude. The intercepting fighters comprising four F4F Wildcats and twenty Brewster F2A Buffaloes of Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-221 were thus in the air waiting when the leading Japanese aircraft sighted Midway at a distance of forty miles around 0615 at 310–320 degrees. The squadron was operating in small units, a five-plane division of F2A-3s under Major Floyd B. Parks, a six-plane division of F2A-3s under Captain Daniel J. Hennessy, a seven-plane division of six F2A-3s and a F4F-3 under Captain Kirk Armistead, a two-planed division of F4F-3s under Captain John F. Carey and a two-plane division of F4F-3s under Captain James P. McCarthy. He estimated the enemy strength at eighty bombers, of which fifty were claimed destroyed.23

However, the original defence plan had already disintegrated. Instead of dividing into two groups, one to tackle the fighter escorts and the other to deal with the bombers, some aircraft were vectored thirty miles out and an altitude of 12,000ft (4,267.


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