1700 local time
4 June 1942
It’s 4 June 1942, the dawn of the epic “Battle of Midway,” a clash of giants, three US carriers vs four Japanese carriers that proved to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific. For more information, both real-life and how I’m running this campaign, please check here:
It’s now 1700, and as the sun is settling into the ocean, LtCmdr Case is escorting a flight of SBD Dauntlesses out to sink the fourth Japanese carrier, the Hiryu.
The Japanese fighters zoom on in, very aggressive, as normal.
Ensign Bryant in there, mixing it up, despite his Wildcat being damaged!
The Zeros begin making their runs on the Dauntlesses.
But the bombers get through! Largely on the work of the dive bomber crews, themselves…
To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
If you made it this far, thanks for reading all these, I hope you enjoyed them. I had fun, but I can’t say it was a lot of fun, just too many ass-whoopins for my taste! It pains me to no end to know that the US Army Air Force is performing better than my sailors and beloved Marines…
Thus ends Midway, the (in my humble opinion) true turning point of the War in the Pacific. Yes, the war would continue for three more years of hard-fighting, and yes, of course, Guadalcanal was no sure thing; as a Marine, I’d love to say that Guadalcanal was the turning point, but the truth is that the US never won before Midway, and never lost afterward (I don’t mean setbacks or battles like Savo Island, I mean campaigns).
I brought my Marines (VMF-343, the “Dirt Divers”), stationed aboard Midway, and my Naval aviators (VF-63, the “Killer Pelicans”), stationed aboard the USS Yorktown. While there were some individual successes, we lost way too many planes, scored too few victories, and lost too many pilots. Here is the breakdown:
VMF-343 Dirt Divers
Escorted 24 bombers of various types, lost 14 of them
Intercepted 12 bombers of various types, stopped 4 of them
Killed 7 enemy fighters (another 4 were killed by bomber crews)
Lost 11 of the squadron’s fighters (2 to enemy bomber crews)
No pilots became Aces, none were decorated
Three pilots KIA or MIA, one seriously wounded
VF-63 Killer Pelicans
Escorted 16 bombers of various types, lost 10 of them
Intercepted 12 bombers of various types, stopped 6 of them
Killed 7 enemy fighters (another 6 were killed by bomber crews)
Lost 13 of the squadron’s fighters (2 to enemy bomber crews)
Four pilots became Aces, three Bronze Star w/V awarded
Six pilots KIA or MIA, three seriously wounded
Escorted 40 bombers of various types, lost 24 of them
Intercepted 24 bombers of various types, stopped 10 of them
Killed 24 enemy fighters (ten were killed by bomber crews)
Lost 24 friendly fighters (4 to enemy bomber crews)
So, not particularly pretty. The US fighters shot down 14 Zeros, the Japanese fighters shot down 20 Wildcats, with the Japanese often being out numbered, though I must point out that the Japanese always had a qualitative advantage, sometimes quite significantly.
I plan on playing a week with the Chickenhawks in New Guinea, P-40s vs Zeros, with the Japanese maintaining their qualitative advantage, but when we get to Guadalcanal things are going to begin to change as cumulative losses begin to tell on the Japanese, and their aircraft advantage will go away as Wildcats and P-40s are replaced by Corsairs, Hellcats, and Lightnings. Actually, the Japanese aircraft advantage will be nullified over Guadalcanal as I look to show the advantage the Marines had operating over the ‘Canal, compared with the Japanese operating at the edge of their ‘legs,’ coming all the way from Rabaul.
Lastly, there is one bit of good news: A PBY out of Midway was patrolling wide swaths of ocean several days after the battle when the pilot suddenly had sunlight glare off of something on the water. “What the hell?” the pilot commented to himself as it happened several more times. He leaned over to his half-asleep co-pilot: “Barney, do see that there,” he said, pointing. “Put the glasses on it and tell me what ya got.” The co-pilot rubbed his eyes and pulled the binoculars to his face, scanning. “Damn, Roger, it’s a lifeboat.” The co-pilot called the sighting in to Midway, then they set down and, lo and behold, who did they fish out of the great Pacific Ocean but the hotshot fighter ace, Lt Fitzsimmons, winner of the Navy Cross, with five kills on four sorties! Thanks Kyote and Shaun 😉