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The Battle of Midway

These artistic representations of the battle of Midway are an important supplement for the historical record of the event. Because the two opposing fleets never came face to face, a number of significant incidents of the battle are unrecorded, and these artworks help fill the gaps. Derived from eyewitness accounts and official photographs, these images are prime examples of what the public was given to visualize this historic encounter.

Midway Island Map
Griffith Baily Coale #23
Oil on canvas, circa 1942




Sand Fort Island, Midway
Griffith Baily Coale #27
Oil on canvas, 1942

Coral sand, bright against the deep backdrop of the Pacific sky and sea. The entrance to a mounded shelter is in the foreground. At the left just out of the picture is the big sand covered pier.


PTs and Zeros
Griffith Baily Coale #32
Oil on canvas, 1942

On the brightly colored waters of the lagoon, the PT's are skimming about, darting here dodging there, maneuvering between the rows of machine gun splashes, incessantly firing their twin pairs 50 caliber guns.


AA Gunners, PT Boats
Griffith Baily Coale #30
Charcoal, circa 1942


Navy Gunners firing their 50 caliber guns, send their bright stream of tracers aloft at a Zero as another Zero dives in flames into the lagoon.


The Battle of Midway
Robert Benny #7
Oil on canvas, circa 1943

A month after striking in the Coral Sea, the Japanese launched an all-out assault against Midway Island in what was obviously intended as the first step of a grand attack upon Hawaii and continental United States. The Navy was ready, and the heroic pilots from naval aircraft carriers inflicted a major sea defeat upon two great converging forces northwest of Midway. The enemy lost four aircraft carriers, at least two heavy cruisers, and a number of light cruisers, destroyers and transport - all by aerial attack. The artist here depicts a withering attack upon a Japanese cruiser by Navy dive-bombers with a fighter escort.


Dive Bombing Japanese Carriers
Griffith Baily Coale #34
Oil on canvas, circa 1942

In the foreground the Kaga passes across the picture with the planes she sought so hard to launch caught on her deck like birds in a nest, helpless against the swooping eagles. At the extreme left the carrier Akagi is sending up billowing smoke, as towering columns of water geyser up around her. The carrier Soryu is burning fiercely from stem to stern under a cloud of mushrooming smoke. In the center a light cruiser's stern rises up as she makes her final plunge. On the horizon 1000-pound bombs have hit two battleships and both are begining to burn. A zero trailing smoke dives into the sea.

This painting is based on the recollections of Ensign George Gay of Torpedo 8, who watched the battle from the ocean after his plane was shot down in the first wave against the Japanese.


view from the American bombers of the Japanese CarriersAir Attack on Japanese Carriers
Griffith Baily Coale #31
Charcoal & pastel, circa 1942




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11 May 2009