Saturday, June 04, 2005

Remember Lt. Cmdr. McClusky Today

Today, the fourth of June, is an historic day for America. From the LA Times:
The two fleets faced off north of Midway, too far apart to reach each other with gunfire. The battle was fought by aircraft. There were three American carriers (virtually all that remained of the U.S. Pacific fleet) versus four large Japanese carriers.

The first waves of U.S. warplanes attacked, disastrously. Navy Lt. Cmdr. John C. Waldron led a squadron of 15 torpedo bombers; all were shot down, and the Japanese ships remained untouched. Two more squadrons followed, one under Lt. Cmdr. Eugene E. Lindsey, one led by Lt. Cmdr. Lance E. Massey. They too suffered heavy losses and failed to scratch the Japanese.

Silence. It looked like America had shot its wad and lost everything. "For about one hundred seconds" at the heart of the battle, Morison writes, "the Japanese were certain they had won the Battle of Midway, and the war."

Then, one more group of U.S. warplanes suddenly appeared — dive bombers led by Lt. Cmdr. Clarence W. McClusky. In countering the previous attacks, Japanese fighter planes had been drawn downward — leaving American bombers unmolested at 14,000 feet, free to dive on the Japanese ships. Two carriers were sunk. Soon afterward a third was destroyed, later a fourth. The U.S. went on to win the battle — and the war.
Read the rest of the article to see what that meant.

EVENING UPDATE Mark at the Conservative Zone has some wonderful tactical history.

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