WW2 Battle of Halfway Island:  The Failed Assault Plan

In late Could 1942, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto despatched 4 plane carriers to assault the…

In late Could 1942, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto despatched 4 plane carriers to assault the Pacific Fleet amenities of Halfway Island.  Yamamoto anticipated the Pacific Fleet carriers to hurry to the scene from Pearl Harbor and into the lure he had ready.

Nevertheless, Admiral Chester Nimitz had constructed a superb cryptography workforce at Pearl Harbor, they usually knowledgeable him of the approaching service assault.  Nimitz deliberate a shock ambush of the Japanese carriers.

Nimitz had three carriers, Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown, every with a squadron of fighters and torpedo planes and two squadrons of dive bombers – a complete of over 230 planes.  Nimitz rapidly assembled a combined bag of over seventy Navy, Military and Marine Corps planes on Halfway Island.

The Nimitz ambush referred to as for planes from each Halfway and the carriers to reach concurrently over the Japanese service fleet in a focus of power and ship a devastating assault.

LtCdr Edwin T. Layton, Pacific Fleet intelligence officer, predicted on Could 27 that the Japanese fleet would method from the northwest, steam towards Halfway on a southeast course of 135 levels, and launch an air assault on Halfway Island at 0430 on June 4.[i]  The Nimitz plan referred to as for PBY scouts to fly from Halfway at 0430, contact the Japanese carriers about 0600, and report their place, course and velocity.

Upon receiving the PBY report, the assault planes from Halfway would fly the reverse of the Japanese course and intercept the Japanese carriers 140 miles from Halfway at about 0720.

To determine the place of the carriers, Layton would have drawn a line from the interception level to the northeast, perpendicular to the Japanese course, and would have marked some extent on the perpendicular line 140 miles from the interception level.  The carriers have been to be at that place at 0600.  Upon receipt of the PBY contact report, they’d fly 140 miles to the interception level, nicely inside their 175-mile most working vary, and meet the Halfway planes over the Japanese carriers at 0720.  The beginning place for the service launch additionally measured 200 miles straight north of Halfway Island and can be used because the navigation reference level by the service command.[ii]

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The carriers departed Pearl Harbor and have been northeast of Halfway by June 2.  Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher was in general tactical command.  At 0430 on June 4, the PBY search planes from Halfway flew on their assigned vectors.  At 0603 a PBY reported contact.  On receipt of the PBY report, each flyable aircraft on Halfway took to the skies.

Nevertheless, at 0600 the Pacific Fleet carriers have been over sixty miles to the east and north of the place 200 miles north of Halfway.  Additionally they have been about 200 miles from the interception level with the Japanese carriers, and the planes have been out of vary.  The gap must be shortened by a minimum of 25 miles to get to most working vary.  On the service velocity of 25 knots, that will take an hour.  The launch time was reset for 0700.

The plan for reaching a focus of power of service planes and Halfway planes over the Japanese service fleet had failed.  The Halfway planes arrived alone over the Japanese carriers at 0710 with out fighter safety, and Zero fighters shot down most of them.  No hits have been scored.  The service planes, 175 miles away, started launching at 0700.

Beginning about 0920, Hornet and Enterprise torpedo squadrons discovered the Japanese carriers and started gallant however hopeless assaults.  One other hour after that, at 1020, an enormous Japanese counterattack was practically able to assault the Pacific Fleet carriers that would have resulted in a Japanese victory.  Nevertheless, at 1025, Dauntless dive bombers from Enterprise and Yorktown arrived and destroyed three of the 4 carriers.  The fourth service was destroyed later within the day, however not earlier than its assault on Yorktown led to the lack of that service.  With 4 enemy carriers sunk, Halfway would go down as the best naval victory of the Pacific Warfare.

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The Nimitz focus of power assault plan was the very best likelihood to attain an early victory at Halfway with a excessive chance of success as a minimum price, however the plan failed when the carriers have been out of place on the appointed time.


Creator:  Dale A. Jenkins has had a lifelong curiosity within the Navy and worldwide affairs. He’s a former US Navy officer who served on a destroyer within the Pacific, and for a time was home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan. Pacific Fleet commitments took him to the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Whereas on lively responsibility he was awarded the Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.

His enterprise profession was primarily in worldwide banking, and he additionally was a workers director on the Council of Overseas Relations in New York. Dale at present serves on the Samuel Eliot Morison Committee of the Naval Order of the USA, New York, and as a Regional Director of the Naval Warfare Faculty Basis. On account of his active-duty expertise and new revelations, Dale supplies insights into the diplomacy and techniques of the Pacific area. He has levels in historical past and enterprise from Harvard and Columbia.

Sourcing

[i] Layton, Edwin T., And I Was There, Konecky & Konecky, 1985, p. 430

[ii] CINCPAC Motion Report, Battle of Halfway, Cruiser Command, Para. 3, June 15, 1942

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