Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 1008 June 4, 1942

Battle of Midway. At 4.30 AM, Japanese carriers launch 72 bombers and 36 Zero fighters to destroy the airfield at Midway but they are detected by a US reconnaissance seaplane 150 miles from Midway and tracked by American radar. Midway launches fighters to intercept and sends unescorted bombers to attack the Japanese fleet. Japanese win the aerial battle over Midway at 6.20 AM but the bombers find no US aircraft on the ground and do relatively little damage to the airfield so another aerial attack is needed before troops go ashore (and to protect the Japanese fleet). Bombers waiting on the Japanese carriers to attack US warships, armed with torpedoes, are sent below to re-arm with bombs to finish off Midway. At 7 AM, US carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet (Task Force 16) launch all their torpedo and dive bombers towards the Japanese warships and USS Yorktown launches an hour later. At 8.30 AM, Admiral Nagumo receives surprising news from a reconnaissance aircraft reporting a US carrier, causing him to reverse his orders (bombs to be taken off the bombers and torpedoes put back on). US bombers from Midway and the carriers attack the Japanese fleet in uncoordinated waves, and are dealt with effectively by anti-aircraft fire and Zero fighters, but, at 10.22 AM, Dauntless SBD dive bombers from USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown attack simultaneously from high altitude while the Zeros are occupied with torpedo bombers. In 5 minutes Japanese carriers Sōryū, Kaga, and Akagi are hit with their flight decks covered with refueling aircraft and piles of bombs and torpedoes, turning the 3 carriers into infernos. USS Yorktown is hit by dive bombers from the remaining carrier Hiryū at noon, then torpedo bombers from Hiryū immobilize her at 2.40 PM (Yorktown abandoned at 2.55 PM, although remaining afloat listing badly). At 5.03 PM, Hiryū is set on fire from bow to stern by 4 1000-lb bombs from SBD dive bombers (USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown). In the final act, Sōryū sinks at 7.13 PM (711 killed, including Captain Yanagimoto who chooses to go down with his ship, 392 taken off by the destroyers Isokaze and Hamakaze) and Kaga is scuttled at 7.25 by destroyer Hagikaze (811 killed, 900 taken off by destroyers Hagikaze and Maikaze).

At 4 AM 20 miles off the Western end of Cuba, U-159 sinks Norwegian SS Nidarnes (13 killed, 11 survivors picked up by an American ship).

Early in the morning 750 miles Northeast of Natal, Brazil, German armed merchant cruiser Stier attacks British SS Gemstone ‘out of the sun’. After the crew is taken on board, Stier sinks SS Gemstone, which is carrying iron ore from South Africa to USA, with a torpedo.

In Strait of Malacca 20 miles South of Phuket, Thailand, British submarine HMS Trusty sinks Japanese cargo ship Toyohashi Maru.

260 miles South of Sydney, Australia, near Gabo Island, Japanese submarine I-27 misses Australian coastal freighter SS Barwon at 5.35 AM and torpedoes ore carrier SS Iron Crown at 4.45 PM which sinks in less than a minute (37 killed, 5 survivors rescued by British-Indian SS Mulbera). A RAAF Hudson bomber on patrol from Bairnsdale spots the submarine and attacks with two 250-lb anti-submarine bombs but I-27 escapes undamaged.

No comments:

Post a Comment